Sunday September 11, 2016

As More Devices Board Planes, Travelers Are Playing With Fire

Concerns about battery fires are ramping up as more and more passengers carry lithium-ion batteries onto flights. Experts are weighing in on how big of a problem these incidents can really be and how containing, rather than policing, devices may be the only practical option.

"It’s damned near impossible to propagate a fire on an airplane," said George J. Ringger, an aeronautical engineer with his own consulting company who specializes in cabin interiors. "Could a passenger get burned? Yes. Would there be smoke that would propagate in the cabin? Do crews have protocols? Yes." But some other fire and safety experts are not as sanguine. A laptop battery fire could take hours to burn itself out. And the smoke emitted would be abundant and toxic.