Friday, October 8, 2010

Lithium Batteries are Vulnerable to Igniting In Flight

Here's something else to worry about when you fly.  The FAA has found that lithium batteries can ignite if improperly stored in aircraft cargo hold.  The AP reports:
Federal aviation officials are warning air carriers that new research shows lithium batteries are sensitive to heat and can ignite in flight if transported in cargo compartments that get too hot.

The Federal Aviation Administration also acknowledged publicly for the first time Friday that a United Parcel Service 747-400 plane that crashed in Dubai last month killing both pilots was carrying a large quantity of lithium batteries.  (emphasis mine)

Since the early 1990s, there have been dozens of incidents of batteries igniting in flight. But it has not been known exactly what triggered many of the fires.

FAA now says recent research has identified heat as the trigger and is offering air carriers advice on how to reduce the risk of fire.
I know that FedEx has special containers placed in areas that can be accessed by the flight crew while the plane is in flight.  This is also the reason that passengers are not permitted to put laptop computers in the seat back pockets.

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