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July 15, 2015

Aircraft Fire Containment – Fire in the Cabin.

Lithium ion battery fire.

Aircraft Fire Containment

Peace of mind while flying in an aircraft is crucial. There is little room for mechanical breakdown or pilot error. There are systems designed and installed in aircraft to prevent or fight fires in critical aircraft systems and infrastructure, for example: extinguishing systems to fight engine fires. But what about aircraft fire containment in the cabin?

Fire containment on board aircraft has come to the forefront because of the prevalence of personal electronic devices (PED’s) which run on lithium ion batteries.

Why do lithium ion batteries cause such concern?

Because, lithium ion batteries, once they reach thermal runaway, cannot be put out by the typical fire extinguisher.

There are typical fire extinguishers readily available to fight fires in almost all aircraft cabins, a common item in aircraft cabins. But, they cannot do the job of extinguishing lithium ion battery fires due to the fact that lithium ion battery fires create their own oxygen source to feed the fire. Most, if not all fire extinguishers work by robbing flames of their oxygen source. They do not work for certain types of combustion, like lithium ion battery thermal runaway.

What are the current options for dealing with a cabin fire on board an aircraft?

The solution as presented by the FAA (found here) – is to leave the burning item in place, do not move it, and douse the burning item with water, lots of water, until extinguished. This does not sound like the ideal way to handle this potential hazard for these reasons:

1 Leaving the burning item in place creates a molten metal and burn hazard to surrounding passengers and crew, not to mention any critical aircraft systems or components.

2. Leaving the burning item open to the cabin environment can create a smoke hazard for passengers and crew.

3. Dousing the item with water may create a hazard with aircraft systems depending on where the device fire is located. Also, there is the factor of where to get the water – it must be on hand and available in a convenient and timely manner – while in flight.

The solution?

Aircraft Fire Containment for the cabin.

FC Concept’s solution is the Emergency Fire Containment System. The EFCS is an aircraft fire containment bag. You can find in-depth information about this system here. Here are some highlights:

* The EFCS effectively contains and extinguishes PED and Lithium Battery fires.
* The EFCS effectively contains 98% all of the resultant smoke.
* The EFCS enables the ability to relocate a possible fire threat away from passengers, crew and flight sensitive areas.

The Emergency Fire Containment System differs from all other fire containment bags, in that it utilizes an automatic suppression system. If the internal temperature rises above a set temperature, the suppression system automatically deploys an aqueous agent within the EFCS, to cool & suppress the fire.

The advantage of this design is, if the threatened device does not reach thermal runaway, the suppression agent will not deploy and the unharmed device may be safely removed and returned, after arriving at your destination. No passenger will appreciate ruining a device that never actually catches fire! So, the EFCS can be used as a precautionary measure, like if a device becomes overly hot.

The EFCS is also easy to stow, easy to handle, and easy to use.

The EFCS by FC Concepts could save your company or airline time, money, bodily injury, or most importantly, lives.

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