FAA Issues InFO on Acceptable Procedures for PED Inflight Fires
In late December 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued InFO 17021, which clarified its policy on the use of fire containment products such as kits/bags and acceptable firefighting and containment procedures for inflight fires involving portable electronic devices (PED).
Per the InFO, several manufacturers are marketing fire containment products (kits/bags) as being “FAA certified,” “successfully tested by the FAA” or “meets FAA standards.” The FAA wants to point out that “the Fire Safety Branch of the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center and the Aircraft Certification Service emphasize that there are no FAA test standards for these containment products, nor is there a mechanism in place for the approval of these products.”
Regardless of how effective the containment kits/bags are, the InFO states “the highest risk may lie in the transfer of a burning or overheated battery to the containment kit/bag.” The FAA does not object to the use of these containment products provided the procedures stated in the Safety Alerts for Operators (SAFO) 09013, dated 6/23/09, “Fighting Fires Caused By Lithium Type Batteries in Portable Electronic Devices”; Advisory Circular (AC) 20-42D, “Hand Fire Extinguishers for use in Aircraft”; and AC 120-80A, “In-flight Fires” are followed.
Some manufacturers of certain containment kit/bags may recommend that a crewmember move a burning, smoking or hot device associated with a lithium battery, and the FAA continues to recommend that a crewmember should not move any device that is burning, smoking or exhibiting any evidence of overheating until that device has been thoroughly cooled. A device that is burning, smoking or hot is inherently unstable and therefore unpredictable.
ATC Threat Still Alive
Government affairs officials from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) told two regional business aviation groups in mid-January that “the threat of ATC privatization hasn’t dissipated and the entire general aviation (GA) community is needed to mobilize in 2018 to defeat the proposal in Congress.”
They noted in their presentations that although Rep. Bill Shuster (R-9-PA), the bill’s sponsor, will be retiring at the end of the congressional term, he is still committed to focusing on and raising the necessary support to pass his privatization bill.
The ATC Not For Sale website and 833-GA-Voice phone line have been specifically set up to make contacting Congress simple and quick. They recognized that in 2017 the GA community responded by making their voices heard via call, emails, tweets, personal meetings and more, but the fight continues.
New FAA Administrator Appointed
In early January Dan Elwell was appointed the new administrator of the FAA, as acting administrator Michael Huerta’s had filled the position’s five-year term. Elwell had been acting as the FAA’s deputy administrator since June 2017.
Elwell’s background experience includes being a former airlines executive with industry, government and association experience, including serving as the FAA’s assistant administrator for aviation policy, planning, and environment from 2006 to 2008. Before rejoining the agency, Elwell previously had been president and managing partner of his own consulting firm, Elwell & Associates, and involved with the Trump administration on issues such as the independent air traffic control organization proposal.