Using laptops, tablets and smartphones more safely in flight

LOKI-PED project

The risks associated with laptops, tablets and smartphones used by passengers in flight are assessed within the LOKI-PED project, funded by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

In flight, people carry their portable electronic devices (PED) with them. Due to crushing in seats or overheating during charging, the lithium-ion batteries within PEDs can heat up and blow up and release hot, toxic and flammable gases. These events may threaten the safe conduct of the flight as well as the health of passengers and crews. The amount of heat and gas released is linked to the energy content of the battery. Actually, each PED on board is limited to 100 watt-hours. Recent power tools and laptops scratch this limit. Hence, guidelines and mitigation measures need to be assessed scientifically. 

Thus, the Fraunhofer Institutes for High-Speed Dynamics, Ernst-Mach-Institut, EMI, and Building Physics IBP team up with the Airbus Operations GmbH within the LOKI-PED project. Multiple test facilities, namely the Battery Test Center TEVLIB at EMI, an A320-mock-up for cabin fire tests and the Flight Test Facility of IBP are used to investigate the consequences of fire and smoke caused by PEDs. These experiments are the basis for numerical simulations and the risk assessment, providing a deeper understanding of both, the thermal runaway consequences and the associated risks. Airlines, authorities, cabin and cockpit crews as well as passengers will benefit from the project results in multiple ways.

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Left: Flight Test Facility of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Holzkirchen, Germany. © Fraunhofer IBP. Right: Test chamber at the Battery Test Center TEVLIB of Fraunhofer EMI in Efringen-Kirchen, Germany. © Fraunhofer EMI