Advisory Circulars

Commercial & Business Aviation

COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS AVIATION ADVISORY CIRCULAR


No. 0260

2007.03.20

POTENTIAL FOR IN-FLIGHT FIRES DUE TO LITHIUM BATTERY FAILURE

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this Commercial and Business Aviation Advisory Circular (CBAAC) is to alert air operators of the potential for in-flight fires caused by the failure of lithium ion and lithium batteries contained in portable laptop computers and other portable electronic devices. 

REFERENCES

Part A, section 2A.2 ‘Fire Prevention’ and section 2A.3 ‘Fire Fighting’ of the Flight Attendant Manual Standard TP12295.

Part 3.9A.1 & 3.9A.3 ‘Electronic Devices-General’
Part 4.1 ‘Initial and Annual Training’ and Part 5.1 ‘Annual Training’ of the
Flight Attendant Training Standard TP12296.

Paragraphs 723.107(3)(f), 724.124(3)(f) and 725.138(25)(g) of the Commercial Air Service Standards (CASS).

Federal Aviation Administration: SAFO - Safety Alert for Operators, #07002 http://www.faa.gov. 

United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Paper 2003/4 – Dealing With In-Flight Lithium Battery Fires In Portable Electronic Devices

BACKGROUND

There have been recent incidents of lithium ion and lithium batteries overheating in laptop computers and resulting in the propagation of smoke and flames from the units. In most of the fires reported, there were signs prior to the laptop igniting in flames. These signs included the sight and smell of smoke, the presence of heat, and sometimes a popping sound prior to ignition.

Due to the potential for fires, the affected manufacturers issued a recall and replacement program for the batteries that posed a problem. As well, users of the laptops in question were advised by the manufacturers to use the AC adapter and power cord to power the system.

In another related incident, the lithium battery contained in a personal air purifier caught fire resulting in injury to a passenger onboard an aircraft. This incident is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

ACTION

In order to minimize the risk of battery failure, passengers should be discouraged from plugging in electronic devices for the sole purpose of recharging the battery.

Should a battery fire occur, the battery power to all recharge points should be turned off immediately and fire-fighting procedures aggressively initiated to reduce the potential of propagation of the fire and the hazard from smoke accumulation.

A review by air operators of their fire-fighting procedures is recommended to determine if they adequately address this potential hazard. Keep in mind some electronic devices may be stowed in a passenger cabin compartment and hidden from view of cabin crew.

FUTURE DISPOSITION

This CBAAC will remain in effect until further notice.

CONCLUSION

While the potential for an in-flight fire caused by an overheated battery is low, air operators may elect to advise all employees of this fire hazard due to the possible risk to aircraft during both ground or flight phases of operation.

Directeur, Normes

Original signed by

D.B. Sherrit
Director, Standards

Commercial & Business Aviation Advisory Circulars (CBAAC) are intended to provide information and guidance regarding operational matters. A CBAAC may describe an acceptable, but not the only, means of demonstrating compliance with existing regulations. CBAACs in and of themselves do not change, create any additional, authorize changes in, or permit deviations from regulatory requirements. CBAACs are available electronically on the TC Web site, at:

http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/commerce-circulars-menu-284.htm
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