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How often do planes refuel? Are airlines prepared to deal with a lithium battery fire on board?

  • April 08, 2021

With everyone carrying mobile devices, including cellphones, laptops and tablets, I’m concerned about fires due to battery malfunction. Do all airlines now carry a fireproof box or device to put out a battery fire if a battery catches fire in the cabin?

– Howard S., Sturgis, South Dakota

Many airlines do have containment devices to hold a lithium battery powered device that has overheated and gone into thermal runaway. I do not know if all airlines have them but the majority do.

Sadly, the FAA guidance for flight crews to deal with a device in thermal runaway is outdated, and has conflicting information. This is an opportunity to improve safety by updating the guidance to flight crews.

John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consulting company, Safety Operating Systems. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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