An official list of fires and incidents sparked by faulty lithium-ion batteries on planes and at airports has now been drawn up … and is continuing to get bigger.
The Federal Aviation Administration which oversees everything from air safety to airports in the USA is so concerned at the increasing problem that it has compiled the list and is updating it regularly.
It has revealed that as of August 2 this year 225 air and airport incidents involving lithium batteries carried as cargo or baggage have been recorded since March 20, 1991.
But it admits there may be many more incidents that have not been reported.
The lithium-ion batteries have been in personal electronic devices ranging from mobile phones to laptops.
The FAA states: “This should not be considered as a complete listing of all such incidents. These are recent cargo and baggage incidents that the FAA is aware of.”
And the FAA also reveals: “This list does not include three major aircraft accidents where lithium battery cargo shipments were implicated but not proven to be the source of the fire: An Asiana Airlines 747 near South Korea on July 28, 2011, a UPS 747 in Dubai, UAE on September 3, 2010 and a UPS DC-8 in Philadelphia, PA on February 7, 2006.”
A typical incident happened on August 2, 2018.
The FAA reports: “During a flight to Salt Lake City a passenger reported that her cellphone (an Apple iPhone 6) was emitting smoke and generating heat. The passenger detected the smell of smoke and heat from the phone which was in her pants’ back pocket. She notified the flight crew of the issue and the phone was placed in a fire retardant bag for containment. As a result of the incident the aircrew declared an emergency and landed without incident.”
And on May 11, 2018, in Cleveland, Ohio, “a passenger’s portable charger/power bank overheated and emitted a burning electrical odour as the aircraft taxied to runway. The flight attendant placed the device in a containment bag and the aircraft returned to the gate.”
* More than 50 airline companies across the world – including some of the biggest and best-known - now carry AvSax fire containment bags to deal with fires in personal electronic devices caused by lithium-ion batteries that power them.
The bag – which won the highly prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise this year - has been used 28 times to deal with emergencies since the start of 2017.