Planes are far more likely to deploy an AvSax fire containment bag than they are lifejackets.

Even though aircraft carry hundreds of lifejackets for passengers, the chances of them being used are remote to the point that it never really happens … yet several planes have already used AvSax to contain mobile electronic devices such as mobile phones and Tablets.

And to go even further when it comes to lifejackets, according to the Wall Street Journal lifejackets have never been needed or properly used by airline passengers.

In a report the Journal states: “You may think the life vest under your airplane seat will save your life if the aircraft ends up in the water. In fact, such a thing has never happened in modern commercial airline flying.

“Even though life vests have been a routine part of overwater air travel, there are problems with their design that limit their usefulness in crash landings. They are so difficult to find under seats and put on securely in an emergency that only 33 passengers of the 150 aboard US Airways Flight 1549 had a life vest after the plane splashed down in the Hudson River in 2009. Only four people managed to properly don their life vest, securing the waist strap so it wouldn’t pop off.”

After this incident the National Transportation Safety Board wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014 stating: “Current standards are not effective. Life vests could not be correctly donned by the overwhelming majority of passengers in an actual emergency when the vests were needed.”

The NTSB said the crash confirmed earlier research that it will take 7 to 8 seconds or longer to retrieve a life vest from under a seat, but most passengers won’t spend that long looking after a crash, especially if water starts filling the cabin.

The Wall Street Journal adds: “In most crash landings, safety experts say it’s more important to get out of the plane as quickly as possible to avoid any fires than take precious seconds to find a life vest and try to put it on. And laboratory tests and actual emergencies have both shown that passengers will give up and flee before actually finding a vest under their seat.”

Federal Aviation Administration data in the USA reveals that in just nine years battery-powered devices were involved in 113 incidents with "smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion" on passenger and cargo planes. 

The AvSax is a special fire-retardant bag used when lithium-ion batteries in mobile phones or other electronic devices catch fire and has been deployed on planes several times in 2017. They are now routinely carried by several major airlines.

So how do they work?

Simply pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax and then drop the burning device into the bag. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the force.

In short, the AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery catching fire but if it does go into thermal runaway it is all contained within the bag.

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