Firebags Can Snuff Out Onboard Li-ion Battery Fires

 - December 1, 2011, 4:57 PM
Ship It AOG and Aircare Access Assistance offer fire containment bags that can render harmless an overheating, burning li-ion battery.

The fiery failure of a lithium-ion battery powering an Apple iPhone 4 aboard Regional Express Flight ZL319 last Friday raises the specter of potential fire hazards because of the many li-ion-powered devices carried on aircraft. Ship It AOG and Aircare Access Assistance offer fire containment bags that can render harmless an overheating, burning li-ion battery, simply by placing the device inside the special bags. Ship It AOG’s Fire-Fighter bag costs $975, and includes the bag and fire gloves. Aircare’s $339 Firesock also includes gloves and comes in a packing tube that can hold 80 ounces of water for use to help douse the fire. The FAA recommends using Halon first then water. The Regional Express incident took place after the aircraft landed in Sydney, Australia, “when a passenger’s mobile phone started emitting a significant amount of dense smoke, accompanied by a red glow,” according to the airline. “In accordance with company standard safety procedures, the flight attendant carried out recovery actions immediately and the red glow was extinguished successfully.” Some tech media outlets have noted that the incident iPhone appears to have been modified with a non-Apple-manufactured case backing. In 2009, the FAA issued a SAFO about fighting lithium-ion battery fires.


FCB1200 LLC developed a patent pending fire contaiment bag several years ago that was succesfully tested in a FAA/DOT certified lab. The SAFO listed in this article was basically aimed directly at FCB1200. The product has been shelved until the FAA changes their mind or there is a catastophic incident that can't be ignored any longer.

Matt Thurber's picture

So what happened to the FCB 1200?

FCB 1200 was originally targeted for major airlines. It had been demonstrated and favorably received by several major U.S. carriers. When the SAFO was issued which does not provide a period for discussion or rebuttal like a NPRM airline econimcs prevailed. Dumping water on a burning PED is cheaper than adding a piece of fire fighting equipment to an aircraft. Unfortunately it will take a major incident to sway the current FAA opinion. The laptop fire in the hospital hallway in South Korea would be a perfect scenario in a widebody aircraft were the battery exploded and resulted in two fires in the hallway because there was nothing to contain the laptop before it exploded. If you have ever traveled coach on a widebody international flight you can imagine the chaos that would eprupt.

The President of FCB1200 LLC is Mr. Randy Steenholdt He can be reached @ 772.631.0340.

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