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Wed, Aug 31, 2016

FAA Boosts Safety Standards For Lithium Batteries On Aircraft

Standards Similar For Rechargeable And Non-Rechargeable Power Cells

As new lithium batteries are approved on U.S. airliners and business airplanes, the FAA is reportedly applying more stringent safety standards for the power cells that power many critical systems on those aircraft.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new approach follows is the result of lessons learned following the grounding of the then-new Boeing Dreamliner fleet following a battery fire in 2013, which force a redesign of the battery system on the airliner. The highter safety standards apply to both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, as government documents show that many of the recognized risks are similar between the two types.

While lithium batteries are lighter and contain more energy than other types of batteries, they are also more prone to internal short circuiting, overcharging, and other problems that can result in fires or the release of toxic or explosive gasses.

Over the past two weeks, the agency has both issued and proposed "special conditions" that put strict safety standards on non-rechargeable lithium batteries used aboard some Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft, as well as some modified PC-12 business planes initially manufactured by Pilatus.

The FAA is requiring onboard safety systems certified to prevent damage to the aircraft under any circumstances from high temperatures, gasses of fire.

At the same time, a joint industry-government panel is completing work on comprehensives new standards for lithium batteries under the auspices of the FAA's outside technical advisory panel.

(Image from file)

FMI: www.faa.gov

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