“A single personal electronic device that overheats and catches fire in checked luggage on an airliner can overpower the aircraft’s fire suppression system, potentially creating a fire that could rage uncontrolled, according to new government research,” Alan Levin reports for Bloomberg.

“Regulators had thought that single lithium battery fires would be knocked down by the flame-retardant gas required in passenger airliner cargo holds. But tests conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration found the suppression systems can’t extinguish a battery fire that combines with other highly flammable material, such as the gas in an aerosol can or cosmetics commonly carried by travelers,” Levin reports. “‘That could then cause an issue that would compromise the aircraft,’ said Duane Pfund, international program coordinator at the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, speaking Wednesday at an aviation safety forum in Washington. PHMSA regulates hazardous materials on airliners along with FAA.”

“The findings last year by the FAA prompted the government to advocate that the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization call for a ban on electronic devices larger than a mobile phone in checked bags. That effort fell short, Pfund said,” Levin reports. “ALPA, the largest pilots union in North America… hasn’t taken a formal position on whether there should be a ban on lithium batteries in checked bags and some fear that many passengers would simply ignore it. At the very least, the union is seeking greater education campaigns so travelers are less likely to place spare batteries and electronics in their checked bags. While fires in carry-on items create their own hazards on flights, experience has shown that they can be extinguished with water. Crew can’t reach bags in cargo areas during flight, so must rely on a plane’s fire suppression systems.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sobering. How long will our collective luck hold out? Oh, wait, it ran out years ago.

SEE ALSO:
Trump administration lifts laptop ban on planes from certain Middle Eastern airports – July 20, 2017
Trump administration’s U.S. ban on laptops and tablets on flights from Europe ‘off the table,’ for now – May 18, 2017
Trump administration considers expanding laptop ban in Europe; would cost airline passengers $1.1 billion – May 17, 2017
Trump admin considers widening electronics carry-on ban to European airports; nothing larger than iPhone permitted in cabin – May 11, 2017
US-UK electronic devices ban on planes came after plot to make iPad bomb uncovered – March 27, 2017
Trump administration bans iPads, laptops and other devices in cabin on flights from certain Middle Eastern airports; Britain follows suit – March 21, 2017
FAA warns airline passengers not to use Samsung phones – September 9, 2016
Qantas first airline to restrict in-flight Dell laptop use due to fire-prone batteries – August 23, 2006
Dell issues largest safety recall in history: 4.1 million laptop batteries due to fire threat – August 14, 2006