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GROUND HANDLING | PART 1


SAFETY HAZARD


T


here are a number of issues created by the transportation of lithium-based batteries on civil aircraft. These batteries are subject to the problem of thermal runaway and a number


of very serious incidents have occurred over the years, bringing them to the attention of international aviation authorities who have taken strong measures to increase the safety surrounding their transportation as cargo. However, these batteries are still carried by thousands of passengers and with their propensity to overheat, they pose a constant danger. A safe and reliable solution, tested in conjunction with a leading airline, has now been found.


LITHIUM ION BATTERIES Lithium-ion batteries are almost everywhere nowadays and provide power for notebook and tablet computers, MP3 players, mobile phones and cameras, as well as cordless devices. This means that many air passengers will carry at least one battery with them as part of the items they carry onto the aircraft. While these batteries are generally reliable one issue with them is their ability, in a small number of cases, to overheat and catch fi re. While this may be less of an issue and more easily contained in land-based environments or other modes of transport, the prospect of a fi re is something which simply cannot be countenanced in the enclosed space of an aircraft, which may be carrying several hundred passengers, as well as crew. The issue with heat relates to the potential creation of thermal


runaway. This can be defi ned as auto-acceleration of heat generation, with a rapid temperature increase, characterised by the expulsion of fl ammable gases and liquids from the product casing. Put simply, just one battery overheating can result in a matter of a few minutes in an uncontrollable fi re, explosion or pressure wave – or even all three. The key challenge is to prevent propagation between cells, modules, packaging and surroundings – on an aircraft, the aim is to extend the time available for emergency


10 / AF / May / June 2016 airportfocusinternational.com


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