LITHIUM AND THE TSA

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LITHIUM AND THE TSA NIGHTMARE


I have a small specific business dealing in high power battery packs for photographers, and have done so for five decades.   I am also a General Aviation pilot with ratings, retired with 28 years experience and sold my last plane ten years ago. I owned five. I have personally seen enough laptops and other Lithium devices blown up to make me side with the TSA.  This is by harmless, innocent folks, not aware of the properties of lithium who were lucky it was on the ground when theirs went up due to the instability of this chemistry.   

They pay attention when their phone goes dead,  or their laptop has a blue or nothing screen of death,  or other rechargeable and they don’t get to the starting line.  Basically Lithium is highly flammable, fast ignition properties and any heat or a spark can set if off.


THE FEDS - SAMSUNG SEVEN - TAKE NOTE

If you’re worried about flying on a plane where passengers may have a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the airlines want you to know it's in the bag.  Airlines have begun installing fire-containment bags on their planes to address the threat posed by overheating lithium ion batteries in mobile devices during flights.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America have already stocked their fleets with the bags, according to the Associated Press. The bright red bags, which are made of fire-resistant material, are designed to hold portable electronics devices should they overheat or catch fire. Delta said it also plans to install the bags, which can withstand temperatures up to 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

The threat posed by overheating devices was underscored by incidents involving overheating Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones, including one that forced the evacuation of a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this month. The FAA had previously advised travelers not to charge or turn on their Galaxy Note 7 while aboard airplanes out of fear of fire or explosion, weeks before Samsung permanently pulled the handsets from market due to a battery flaw that caused dozens of the phones to explode or burst into flames.

In the past 25 years, the Federal Aviation Administration has recorded 129 incidents (PDF) involving batteries smoking, overheating or exploding in cargo or passenger baggage. There have been 23 incidents reported so far in 2016, up from 15 for all of 2015, according to the FAA.

In a FAA emergency prohibition order officially published in the Federal Register we learn quite a bit about the penalties in place should someone Bring a Galaxy Note 7 on board an aircraft  -or- What happens if said person refuses to comply with the requisite instructions from aircraft personnel upon being caught.

YOU CANNOT BOARD WITH THE SAMSUNG 7 -
If you bring a Note 7 to the airport, you will not be allowed to board with it.  You can’t carry it on your person nor can you check it in with your luggage.   Per Emergency Restriction/Prohibition Order No. FAA-2016-9288, airline personnel are required to “ Deny boarding to a passenger in possession of a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device unless and until the passenger divests themselves and their baggage of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device."

If a passenger either purposefully or inadvertently brings a Galaxy Note 7 on board and it is discovered once a plane is in the air, airline personnel  “Must instruct the passenger to power off the device and not to use or charge the device onboard the aircraft and protect the device from accidental activation, including disabling any features that may turn on the device, such as alarm clocks, and keep the device on their person and not in the overhead compartment, seat back pocket, nor in any carry-on baggage, for the duration of the flight.”

The Law:  If a passenger does not comply with the above rules, which is to say that a passenger brings a Note 7 on board and refuses to power it off and store it appropriately, he/she will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $179,933. 

Additionally, the penalties state that a person violating the above order is also “ Subject to criminal prosecution” which can result in fines and “Imprisonment of up to ten years, or both.”  

Don’t test them.  Several have ignited and you do not want to be the next test case, the law is now in effect, only a frickin idiot would try to beat the system.
 

NO SKATEBOARDING IN THE AISLES
Hover-boards, gliders, electric skateboards—whatever name they come by, you have probably seen and heard of them. These self-balancing devices are the year’s hottest electronics as people everywhere are snapping them up and buying them as presents for their loved ones.  In fact, you probably know at least one person with a Hoverboard on their Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Klingon or Romulan holiday list.

As cool as they are, there’s one big problem: they are not safe to transport on an airplane And according to the Emergency Rooms in the US Hospitals not exactly safe either on the ground..

At most Federally based airlines in agreement with the TSA they  do not allow hover boards as checked luggage or as carry-on. Hover boards are usually powered by lithium ion batteries, which are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as hazardous materials. 

Internal short-circuits can occur with lithium ion batteries, which can then lead to a “thermal runaway” where the battery overheats and bursts into flame.  Hoverboard battery ratings are unreliable and have been known to catch fire, which makes them more concerning to transport on a plane. 


FIRE IN THE SKY
When fire occurs in the sky , it’s a whole new ballgame. Sheer frickin panic, I know I have been there.  I have seen the Lithium fires caused by their enclosure or case fracturing, even small cell phone batteries, exposing Lithium,  a metal lighter than aluminum, in fine mash form, exposed to air and it just takes a spark as with the Apple phone shown above.

I side with safety, the FAA has a myriad of cases involving exploding batteries many due to inherent danger of Lithium and poorly packed products.  

By the way, the Queen of Sheba at Heathrow burst into flames by the rear access door which just happens to be just above the Lithium Batteries that power the black boxes.

The off-on grounding of the 787 Boeing Dreamliner on it’s rollout with fires caused by the high capacity generators and their Lithium batteries are enough to make me think avoid that aircraft till I know it’s OK.  

The new generation of light lithium batteries was going to deliver equal power at half the weight, but it appears that the chemistry inside the ‘thermal runway’ can self-heat if external temperature and pressure change, something which frequently occurs in aviation with every take-off and landing.

One incident, prompted by an emergency landing of an All Nippon Airways plane showed in the initial inspection by Japanese officials of the 787 found that a flammable battery fluid known as electrolyte had leaked from the plane’s main lithium-ion battery beneath the cockpit.(I beg you to read on)   and they also found burn marks around the battery. 


“I HAVE FELT THE HEAT” 

Fire is not a pilots friend. As a pilot and former co-owner of several General Aviation aircraft, fire is a pilots biggest fear, it spreads fast and you are basically sitting in a bath of fuel. Fire is on a par with an unscheduled contact with mother earth, called a crash. 

On a return flight from EYW  to PIE, Fl with three friends on board, the upside down Marvel Schebler carburetor failed on my Cherokee. Had I been over water, I would be swimming with the fishes.

A critical part the internal float, in the upside down carburetor, went to full rich. The mechanics term,  “It sank”, and started, spewing fuel on the hot engine, the mixture and throttle control did nothing.  We had smoke and where there is smoke generally there is a good chance of fire. 

The drill I practiced a 1000 times was not a drill anymore. The negatives, I had three miles, no engine and a potential water landing.  The positives, I was lucky, I had altitude, and I was transitioning an airfield airspace I knew very well,and talking with their tower, I immediately did what I had to do, and declared an emergency. I requested a specific runway, I had landed on a thousand times, knew my glide numbers.  I got an affirmative and went to work.

I had clicked into “mental auto mode” I established best glide, closed the fuel selector lever down, leveled the prop, shut everything not needed, topped the field into a left downwind, then base, finally into a short field landing on R-06  close to the fire cart with three friends on board.  In reality,  I have practiced this engine out maneuver 1000 zillion times, and did what training had taught me to do and it worked.  Here is simulation of what it looked like.  Just before the 3600 dollar repair bill, today, over $10,000 or more if I was lucky.

After they did the repairs to my plane, and claimed new parts were used, it failed again, on the test flight takeoff roll even after several test runs-ups showed no problems. I aborted, less than twenty feet to the breakwater.  I shut off the fuel and bailed, notified the FAA, the mechanic was heavily investigated, his shop was permanently closed, they found other illegalities,  and his life was saved.  Thats when the airport police took the tow bar from me as I was about to crush his skull for cheating and falsifying new parts on the repair which again leaked. Next time Piper fixed it.


MH370 and LITHIUM
MIGHT BE INVOLVED

There have been dozens of aircraft fires caused by lithium batteries​, so many that the batteries are no longer welcome as cargo on passenger flights. In one of the most recent incidents, a Fiji Airways Boeing 737​ was preparing for takeoff from Melbourne, Australia, when smoke was discovered coming from the cargo bay. The plane was evacuated and the cargo unloaded. The source of the fire turned out to be lithium-ion batteries in a passenger’s checked bags. 

Hover boards and e-cigarettes are banned from flights for the same reason.  After I secured a copy of the Cargo Manifest of the missing Flight MH370, I noticed it was carrying 500 pounds of Lithium batteries in the front cargo hold plus 5000 pounds of undisclosed electronic objects which I believe could be more Lithium batteries classified as something else fraudulently to save tariff rates.  MH370 report at www.aljacobsladder.com

During an annual inspection years ago my plane at that time, a Piper Archer 160 required a new ELT battery. Normally these were Alkaline batteries. This time it was replaced by the new Lithium Model with a five year life cycle.  Cost more but promising longer life. Three months later we got notice from the GADO office of the FAA to remove said Lithium batteries as they had leaked and corroded the stainless steel control cables on several aircraft.  So much for it’s a new issue.

The control cables to the tail section would have compromised the rudder, and stabilator.  An eminent crash had the plane even made it off the ground. There are reasons for things the FAA and the TSA do and though we might not agree, usually there is cause.  The batteries were replaced with the proven Alkaline’s.

LITHIUM IS DANGEROUS
NEW SERVICE UPDATE 

All that most of us need to know about the new rules is that you can't pack any spare (i.e., not plugged into a device of some sort) Lithium-ion or Lithium metal batteries in your checked luggage. You'll want to take any spares in your carry-on luggage instead, and you'll want to pack as few of them as possible to avoid getting into the aforementioned legal dispute.

The new rules have nothing to do with terrorism, but are a safety measure aimed a preventing the batteries in a cargo hold from blowing up all on their own. "Lithium batteries are considered hazardous materials because they can overheat and ignite in certain conditions," said the FAA.  Safety testing conducted by the FAA found that current aircraft cargo fire suppression system would not be capable of suppressing a fire if a shipment of non-rechargeable lithium batteries were ignited in flight.”   

The regulations applicable to international air shipments of lithium batteries have changed. Compliance with the new regulations becomes mandatory January 1, 2013.  Refer to the International Lithium Battery Regulations for more details.


AIRCRAFT MAKERS URGE BAN
ON LITHIUM BATTERY SHIPMENTS
 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Aircraft makers are urging a ban on bulk lithium battery shipments on passenger planes, calling the threat of fires "an unacceptable risk," according to an industry position paper obtained by The Associated Press.  The International Coordination Council of Aerospace Industry Associations, which represents aircraft companies such as Boeing and Airbus, also is calling for stronger packaging and handling regulations for batteries shipped on cargo planes.  The International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations, an umbrella group for pilot unions, joined the aircraft makers in issuing the paper. Note: 

The tests show aircraft fire protection systems "are unable to suppress or extinguish a fire involving significant quantities of lithium batteries, resulting in reduced time available for safe flight and landing of an aircraft to a diversion airport," aircraft makers said. "Therefore, continuing to allow the carriage of lithium batteries within today's transport category aircraft cargo compartments is an unacceptable risk to the air transport industry."

The call for a ban applies to both lithium-ion and lithium metal batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable and are used in products ranging from cellphones and laptops to power tools. Lithium metal batteries are not rechargeable, and are often used in toys, watches and some medical devices, among other products.  The International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, decided last year to change its shipping standards to prohibit the shipment of lithium metal batteries aboard passenger planes, but not rechargeable batteries, which are shipped by air far more frequently. The aircraft industry paper obtained by the AP was drafted for presentation at an upcoming meeting of the agency's dangerous goods panel in April.

The call for a ban is aimed only at cargo shipments, not batteries that passengers take on board planes in their personal electronic devices or carry-on bags.  George Kerchner, executive director of PRBA - the Rechargeable Battery Association, said in a statement that lithium-ion battery makers are "fully committed to the safe transport of lithium batteries." He said the battery industry trade association will continue to work with the aviation industry and government officials.

DELTA AND UNITED WILL NOT
ACCEPT LITHIUM BATTERIES AS CARGO

In recent weeks, two major U.S airlines - Delta and United - have announced they will no longer accept rechargeable battery shipments. The aircraft makers' call for a ban puts further pressure on international carriers around the globe to refuse battery shipments or appear indifferent to safety.  The shipments are less of an issue for domestic or regional carriers who generally fly smaller planes with less room for cargo. Also, the demand for air shipments of batteries tends to be for flights across oceans.

Passenger and cargo airlines generally fly the same types of planes, although they are configured differently inside. The fire protection capabilities of the planes were "developed considering the carriage of general cargo and not the unique hazards associated with the carriage of dangerous goods, including lithium batteries," the paper said.

Temperatures in some of the government testing reached nearly 1,100 degrees. That’s close to the melting point of aluminum, about 1,200 degrees. 

The FAA tests show "the uncontrollability of lithium battery fires can ultimately negate the capability of current aircraft cargo fire suppression systems, and can lead to a catastrophic failure of the airframe," the position paper said.

U.S. and international officials have been slow to adopt safety restrictions that might affect the powerful industries that depend on the batteries. About 4.8 billion lithium-ion cells were manufactured in 2013, and production is forecast to reach 8 billion a year by 2025. A battery contains two or more cells.  Lithium batteries dominate the global battery industry because they're cheap to make, lightweight and can hold a lot more energy than other types of batteries.

Cargo airlines are continuing to transport the batteries even though they are believed to have either caused or contributed to fires that destroyed two Boeing 747 freighters in recent years, killing their pilots. The pilots of a third freighter managed to escape after landing in Philadelphia, but that plane was also destroyed.  UPS recently completed a round of tests on a shipping container that was adjusted to allow gases to escape while continuing to contain a battery fire. UPS officials said the company was encouraged by the results of the tests.

Pilot unions in the US have been pressing for a single safety standard for both passenger and cargo airlines.  
US regulators' hands are tied by a 2012 law that Congress enacted in response to industry lobbying. It prohibits the government from issuing regulations regarding battery shipments that are any more stringent than standards approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, unless an international investigative agency can show the batteries ignited a fire that destroyed an aircraft. That’s difficult, since in the three cases thus far in which batteries are suspected of causing fires, the planes were too damaged to determine the source of the blaze.

A lithium-ion battery that caught fire aboard a parked Boeing 787 in 2013 in Boston had design flaws and it should not have been certified by the US Federal Aviation Administration, US accident investigators said on Monday.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the battery, manufactured by GS Yuasa Corp, experienced an internal short circuit that led to thermal runaway of the cell. This condition caused flammable materials to be ejected outside the battery's case and resulted in a small fire, the NTSB said in its report on the incident.

The agency said its investigators found a number of design and manufacturing concerns that could have led to the short circuiting, including the presence of foreign debris and an inspection process that could not reliably detect defects.

"We are looking at the report from the NTSB, and until we have examined its findings we don't wish to comment," a spokeswoman for GS Yuasa said. The Japanese battery maker's shares dipped as much as 3.2 percent in Tokyo after the NTSB released its findings.


BASIC RULES
It is important to be aware of proper shipping processes when shipping batteries, as improperly packaged batteries can short-circuit, overheat, and catch fire while in transportation.   It is your responsibility to make sure they are packaged correctly and ensure they comply with all applicable regulations.  There are many types of batteries, including lithium (e.g. computer and cell phone batteries); dry cell (e.g. AA, C, D batteries); and lead-acid (e.g. for cars or wheelchairs). Each type has varying levels of regulatory requirements and packaging needs, and several types must be documented as hazardous materials when shipped.

For loose batteries, cover the battery terminals (or leads) with an insulating cap or electrical tape, if the battery is not already contained in protective packaging.  Ensure there is adequate internal protection to keep batteries from contacting metal or other batteries by wrapping them individually, either with bubble sheeting or plastic bags.  

Do not ship damaged, defective, or recalled batteries by air, as such shipments are prohibited by federal regulation. Also, UPS does not accept air shipments of recycled batteries.  For battery-operated tools, laptops, or other appliances, provide effective protection for the switches to make sure they will not turn on accidentally during transportation.

Common sense dictates you package batteries securely to keep them from shifting, being crushed, or otherwise damaged while in transportation.  We appreciate your help in making sure your packages are safe for transport.  The regulations applicable to international air shipments of lithium batteries have changed. Compliance with the new regulations becomes mandatory January 1, 2013.

This request and report came out after MH370 and further tells me the airlines have a common theory as to what did occur on that flight. I have and will unless proven wrong believe the batteries and illegally presented cargo brought that plane down.  I said it after I had the privy of going over the cargo manifest, now published on line, and it lit both my afterburners.