How to safely contain a tablet fire

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Lithium ion batteries are modern miracles: they provide enough power for an iPad to run for 6+ hours, they charge quickly, and are lightweight. It’s not a stretch to say the electronic flight bag revolution could not have happened without them. But while the safety record of lithium ion batteries is remarkably good considering how many of them are in circulation, fires and explosions do happen. The FAA has published reports for over 40 such incidents in the last year alone.

Unfortunately, lithium ion battery fires are different from most other types because they do not need oxygen to burn. If it’s caused by a short, the battery can enter thermal runaway and may even explode. Even worse, traditional Halon fire extinguishers are not very effective on such fires. Watch the video below for an example of just how dramatic a lithium ion battery fire can be.

As a result of this threat, many airlines and corporate flight departments require pilots to carry fire containment systems on all flights. After all, in a pressurized airplane at 37,000 feet, you can’t exactly throw the tablet out the window. While these systems work very well, they have been far too heavy and expensive for general aviation pilots to consider – costing well over $3,000 in some cases.

Fire containment bag
These fire containment bags are small enough to be stored under a pilot’s seat.

Fortunately, there’s a new option that is both portable and far less expensive. Two sizes of fire containment bag are available, one for tablets/phones and one for laptops. Each has a multi-layer construction: the carbon layer prevents fire, and will withstand 3000 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, while a separate Kevlar layer prevents projectiles from injuring pilots and passengers in case of an explosion. A pair of fire resistant gloves is included for handling the bag, making this a complete system. In the event of a tablet fire, just place the device in the bag and close the flap.

The bags are made with FAA-approved materials (in accordance with FAR Part 25.853) and have been tested extensively. There’s also a free replacement guarantee for life – if the bag is used to contain a fire, a new bag will be sent out free of charge.

At $495, the Tablet Fire Containment Bag certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s dramatically less expensive than most other systems we’ve seen. It measures 14″w x 10″h x 2″d and can be rolled up for storage. A larger bag is available for laptop computers, which measures 14″w x 17″h x 2″d and costs $595.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Ok it’s pretty dramatic but is that battery the same capacity as an iPad battery? Looks like a lot larger one to me!! Are you just trying to be dramatic and scare people into buying the product using a spectacular fire ball or ?? I’ve seen the cell phone batts go up in smoke and they are not that dramatic, ya the iPad has a larger battery but is that much larger? Lets redo the experiment with a real iPad and iPad battery and the camera up close so I can see that its an iPad when the battery starts smoldering.

    • You’re right, it does look larger than an iPad battery, although remember that an iPad 3 battery is almost 12,000 mAh. That’s big. We chose the video mostly because it’s from a reputable source.

      Here’s a smaller cell phone battery fire – and it’s still pretty dramatic. https://youtu.be/6wFPsxgm_ak

  2. If the battery is on fire how do you put it in the bag? Does it come with gloves. Please parden my lack of knowledge on the subject.

  3. Really. They are that concerned with our safety. Charge 500 dollars for a bag that you can get at many RC hobby stores for under 20 bucks. That are designed to charge Lipo batteries in. The bag does not need to be FAA approved to contain a battery fire, or save your life for that matter. Save your money and spend on fuel for more flying. Buy one of these at your local hobby shop, or online hobby shop. Search Lipo bag.

  4. What is the point of flying with a “revolutionary” product if its locked up inside a $500 bag?! Just leave your iPad at home, or for the price of that bag, buy a new iPad at your destination!!

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