Fire risks caused by PEDs on-board aircraft

The subject matter of this project is the provision of a research service aimed at the full characterisation of the fire risks associated to the transport of portable electronic devices (PEDs) in aircraft, notably those stored in the checked luggage, and the evolution of the current airworthiness standard for testing fire suppression systems of aircraft cargo compartment, including the replacement of halon as fire suppression agent.

The objectives

The main objective is to conduct testing involving PEDs contained in passenger’s checked baggage in order to accurately characterize the fire risk (initiation, growth, propagation) within a cargo compartment representative of current large transport aircraft (Class C) and to assess if the level of performance of the fire protection systems of Class C cargo compartments is sufficient to address cope with that fire risk.
In addition the Minimum Performance Standard (“MPS”) for halon replacement in cargo compartment fire suppression system needs to be complemented by an additional test addressing a cargo fire scenario involving a certain number of lithium batteries/cells. 

This general objective is decomposed as follows:

  1. Develop the test plan, protocols and analysis methods for the characterisation of the efficiency of the existing fire suppression means on-board commercial air transport aircraft, covering in particular several scenarios for the presence of PEDs in passengers’ checked baggage;
  2. Perform the series of fire tests along the agreed test plan and protocols;
  3. Analyse the test data and draw conclusions regarding their efficiency and their potential limitations in the test scenarios defined;
  4. Present the test results and recommendations to the relevant expert and standard development groups as well as to air transport safety stakeholders.

The main tasks and deliverables

The project is structured along the following tasks:

  • Task 1 — Evaluate the baseline performances of the selected fire test chamber against FAA MPS standard tests
  • Task 2 — Develop the test plan and protocols for scenarios involving PED or lithium batteries fires in checked luggage
  • Task 3 — Performance of fire tests 
  • Task 4 — Assessment of test results and aircraft fire protection effectiveness
  • Task 5 — Project conclusions,  recommendations and presentation to aviation stakeholders