Smoking Section: Airlines Prepare for Fires from Exploding Smartphones

By Paul Riegler on 18 October 2016
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While all aircraft are equipped with fire extinguishers as well as fire suppression systems in the cargo hold and engine pods, the recent rash of lithium-ion battery fueled fires that resulted in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 mobile phones being withdrawn from the market is causing carriers to adopt extra precautions.

Following the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration’s ban last Friday on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones from all flights, regulatory agencies in other countries including Canada and Japan followed suit. In addition, airlines across the globe, including those in Australia, China, Germany, Italy, Singapore, and South Korea, have banned the device from cabins and checked luggage.

The troubled Samsung device is known to spontaneously combust.

Prior to the ban, two airlines, Alaska and Virgin America, added fire-containment bags to their aircraft. The bags are made using a fire-resistant material and sized to hold portable electronic devices. In the event of a fire, the device can be placed into the bag and closed with Velcro and zipper closures. The bags are designed to withstand temperatures of up to 3,200° F (1,760° C).

Last week, Delta Air Lines, on its quarterly earnings call, said it too would begin to outfit its aircraft with fire-containment bags, starting with its long-haul fleet.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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