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            january 22, 2020

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Personal iPad batteries can spark fires in aircraft


Personal iPad batteries and the like, can spark fires in aircraft that can overpower standard fire suppression systems and rage out of control, according to US Government research.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulators had thought that single lithium battery fires would be knocked out by the flame-retardant gas required in passenger airliner cargo holds, reports Bloomberg News.
But new FAA tests have found the suppression systems can't extinguish a battery fire that combines with other highly flammable material, such as the gas in an aerosol can or cosmetics commonly carried by travellers.
"That could then cause an issue that would compromise the aircraft," said Duane Pfund, international programme coordinator at the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency regulates hazardous materials on airliners along with FAA.
Speaking to an aviation safety forum in Washington, Mr Pfund said research highlights the growing risks of lithium batteries, which are increasingly used to power everything from mobile phones to gaming devices.
Bulk shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries have been banned on passenger planes.
The findings last year by the FAA prompted the government to advocate that the UN's International Civil Aviation Organisation call for a ban on electronic devices larger than a mobile phone in checked bags.
"One way or another, we have to deal with these hazards," said Scott Schwartz, director of the Air Line Pilots Association's hazardous goods programme. ALPA, the largest pilots union in North America, is holding its annual safety conference.
The US Homeland Security Department in June 2017 funnelled more such electronics into cargo holds out of fears that electronics as small as a tablet computer could be used to hide terrorist bombs.
The agency stopped short of a threatened ban on taking the devices into airline cabins, but required additional screening of electronics.

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