Lithium battery fires in the Boeing 787 and in the cargo of two 747 freighters that crashed fatally has put the spotlight on the fire risks of modern technology in aircraft.
But it’s not just about lithium batteries. The different reaction of composite wings and fuselages to fire is changing the fire risk profile in airliners. So is the “more-electric aircraft” design concept, and the proliferation of inflight entertainment systems.
A latest generation narrowbody, according to experts, carries 150km of electric cabling, and about 500 lithium batteries in passenger and crew carry-on equipment and to power onboard systems.
Fire on board is the ultimate nightmare scenario, and the risks are growing. That is the conclusion of the FAA, the UK CAA, and the Royal Aeronautical Society, who have all been studying the subject in depth.