Regulators in the USA have clear standards on how to deal with fires in personal electronic devices on aircraft.

And AvSax fire containment bags meet those regulations.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s document called Procedures for Fighting In-Flight Fires Associated With Portable Electronic Devices and Lithium Batteries When Using Commercially Marketed Containment Products states: “The risks and safety concerns of lithium ion batteries in aircraft are well documented.”

It then lays out detailed guidance on how airlines should deal with such emergencies – and typical scenarios are mobile phones or laptops catching fire due to faulty lithium-ion batteries inside them.

The FAA notice states: “Once the fire is extinguished, containment devices can be used to secure the personal electronic device provided it has been adequately cooled to allow transfer to the containment device.

“Keeping an unstable device cool is critical. In order to do so, any such containment device should be capable of holding liquid so that the device can be submerged during storage.”

AvSax fire containment bags manufactured by Environmental Defence Systems Ltd based in Yorkshire, England, do just that.

Aircraft carrying just 100 passengers could have around 300 to 500 lithium batteries on board when you tot up all the laptops, cameras, e-readers, tablets and mobile phones that need them. There is always a possibility that poor quality or damaged batteries can overheat, causing them to go into what is known as thermal runaway which could lead to the device catching fire.

This happens when one cell in a battery overheats it can produce enough heat – up to 900°C (1652°F) – to cause adjacent cells to overheat. This can cause a lithium battery fire with the potential to cause damage to the aircraft and put lives at risk. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the USA has reported 225 battery incidents happening in cargo or baggage since 1991 and many of these involved lithium batteries. Ominously, of those, 46 were reported in 2017.

AvSax have been used in action on board aircraft 28 times since the start of 2017. They are now used by 65 airlines and 13,000 AvSax are on planes worldwide.


How does AvSax work?

If an electronic device starts to seriously overheat or emit smoke the cabin crew will pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax. It is imperative to first knock down the flames from the device using an on board halon or water fire extinguisher, then transfer the device into an AvSax before it reignites. Additional water is then required. The water activates a polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then AvSax is tough enough to absorb the energy.

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

* Written by Andy Hirst at AH! PR