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Your overheated laptop battery could cause a fire on a plane, study says

POSTED: August 8, 2018 10:19 a.m.
Herb Scribner/

New government research revealed that an overheated battery could cause an airliner to crash.

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New government research revealed that an overheated battery can cause an airliner to crash.

As Bloomberg reported, an overheated device sitting in checked luggage could overpower the airliner’s fire suppression system, potentially causing a fire that could rage throughout the plane.

Recent tests conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration found that fire suppression systems could not extinguish battery fires that combine with other flammable material, like gas and aerosol cans or cosmetics, that are commonly brought onto planes by travelers.

“That could then cause an issue that would compromise the aircraft,” said Duane Pfund, international program coordinator at the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, according to Bloomberg.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s 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,” according to Bloomberg.

The FAA tests found that halon gas currently installed in airline cargo holds couldn’t extinguish the battery fire. However, the halon gas did stop the fire from spreading to other hazardous material, according to the American Journal of Transportation.

Aerosol cans exploded during tests after they were covered in the halon gas.

“There is the potential for the resulting event to exceed the capabilities of the airplane to cope with it,” the FAA said.

The FAA’s findings last year led to the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization to call for a ban on electronic devices larger than a smartphone in checked luggage, according to the New York Post.

However, the effort to do so fell short.

“One way or another, we have to deal with these hazards,” said Scott Schwartz, head of the hazardous goods program at the Air Line Pilots Association, according to the New York Post.

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