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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Mitigating the Risk of an On-board Fire

PED fires happen every month at home or the road, on the kitchen counter top or in someone’s pocket.

What about on an aircraft?

An on-board Personal Electronic Device (PED) / Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery fires are real, and it can happen to your laptop… or to the guy in 22B. Either way, the results will be the same if on an aircraft

The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was recalled due to an increased battery fire-hazard. There have been almost 200 FAA recorded commercial aircraft PED fire incidents over the previous ten years—more than half of these occurred over the last 3 years! The FAA has acknowledged they do not catch all incidents.

Heat, flames and possible explosion can occur, but also the organic vapors and smoke are toxic. The vapors and smoke will restrict your vision, burn your eyes, nose and lungs but these very unique vapors are known to contain neuro-toxins.

A Thermal Runaway is the problem:

"The basic phenomena related to Li-ion battery fires is a chemical reaction called “thermal runaway” (TR). This condition is not unique to Li-ion batteries (TR also occurs in Ni-Cad batteries) but since Li-ion and Li-ion polymer batteries contain flammable solvents mixed with lithium hexafluorophosphate, the TR problem is greatly exacerbated. If a Li-ion cell becomes overheated for any reason (i.e. 150-200 degrees C), it may set off the TR reaction. Once in TR, the Li-ion cell undergoes a very rapid temperature rise to more than 500 degrees C followed by the venting of flammable vapors, which many times includes flames and an explosion. A single cell in TR is a very exciting event, but a battery with multiple cells in TR is like a runaway freight train.” 

What can be done?

Dr. George Brilmyer found a solution. Dr. Brilmyer holds a PhD in electro-chemistry with more than 35 years working in the battery industry. He’s held numerous positions in the industry including product development, product engineering, R&D and consulting. Having been in the battery industry when the first rechargeable lithium batteries injured early cellphone users, George has followed the development of Li-ion batteries in their attempt to provide a safer alternative for portable power. A truly safe battery has yet to be developed. Thus Dr. Brilmyer invented, PlaneGard, via his corporation, Highwater Innovations.

Dr. Bilmyer said,

“The FAA has been studying these fires for about 10 years and advise using Halon followed by water as the device continues to smoke and explode. We of course disagree since we saw the problem and developed PlaneGard to address it. This is why our How it works page has the PlaneGard vs Halon and Water scenario. We believe that the sooner the PED is fully contained the less exposed are passengers and crew to vapors that we know contain HF and some nerve agents. "Burn bags" have been around for 10 years and the FAA has a SAFO 09013sup that says do not use them?

PED fires are the only safety issue that is growing. Everyone is carrying more devices as the batteries are becoming larger and more powerful (and subsequently more dangerous). The corporate jet people treat PlaneGard as "carry on equipment" and stow it behind a seat like they would a briefcase.

In large planes we recommend 2, one fore and one aft. For example an internet search company has one on each of their Gulfstream's but 2 on their 757. Passenger education is key and on corporate jets is relatively easy.” 

Multiple banking institutions, and a few large corporations carry PlaneGard on their aircraft. I removed the names for confidentiality reason, but it makes sense they carry them, as safety is of utmost concern for the financial sector, as it is for other billion dollar companies. If they use it to protect their executives, why not the airlines? Why not you? It’s actually not that expensive.

To see what a Thermal Runaway looks like in action and how PlaneGard can solve the problem, watch this short video. In the videos they applied heat to force the battery into thermal runaway, so the timeline is greatly accelerated. But reality the devices get warm, then hotter, and then begins to smell and smoke giving time to put it into PlaneGard before the first cell erupts. It’s amazing that the FAA has not mandated at least one of these on every commercial airliner.

Fly Safe. Be Safe.

 Flight For Sanity coming soon....
 Catch up on the series so you will be ready!

Motivation and Children too! 


  1. A good read, and Great Information as always! Thank you. ☺

    1. Thank you! Today the cell phone news is out on the plane... only a matter of time?


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