A question posed to me a few weeks ago was about whether there continue to be increases in incidents of Lithium fires and failures on commercial aircraft. The simple answer to this is YES and we see no decline in these increases.
I thought it important to note that the FAA made the following statement specifically about Electronic Flight Bags or EFB’s and the risks associated (these are iPad type units now carried by the pilots to use in place of heavy flight bags):
…”significant hazard within the flight deck environment and could potentially present a catastrophic risk” (Steve Summer, FAA Fire Safety Branch, “Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) Hazard Assessment,” 2012, http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/systems.asp).
Keep in mind the definition of a catastrophic risk (FAA AC 25-109-1a) or catastrophic failure must be extremely improbable and the AC goes on to say:
FAA, IATA, and other data lead the Royal Aeronautical Society to conclude:
…“the accident data reviewed shows a much greater rate of occurrence of catastrophic in-flight smoke/fire/fume events than the definition of “extremely improbable”, or once in a billion flights. In some rare cases, an in-flight fire can become a “catastrophic” event. There is a definite need for improved mitigations to reduce the likelihood and severity of such events.”
The Three best quotes:
What we have is consensus that Lithium battery fires are dangerous and even models as to how many will happen, however we still don’t have proper direction to extinguish one from the FAA.