EASA Warns On Airline-Device Lithium Battery Risk

By: Victoria Moores

European aviation regulator EASA has warned that operators could be exceeding lithium battery limits in their portable inflight entertainment systems, or by storing too many backup batteries for cockpit portable electronic devices (PEDs).

“EASA is concerned about the risks associated with the broad use by aircraft operators of PEDs containing lithium batteries that exceed the limits imposed by the technical instructions (TI),” the agency said in a safety information bulletin (SIB).

Lithium batteries are classified as dangerous goods, even when installed, and under current regulations all batteries in the device must not cumulatively exceed 100 Watt hours (Wh), or over 2 grams of lithium content. Spare batteries must also be protected to prevent short circuits when not in use.

 understands some operators have been found to be carrying a large number of unsuitably packed backup batteries for use in cockpit devices, such as tablet-based electronic flight bags. This could potentially increase the risk of a cockpit fire.

The SIB is also intended to tackle the powerful lithium batteries contained in portable wireless networks, used for inflight entertainment (IFE). These self-contained portable systems are brought on board and do not form a fixed part of the aircraft’s certified design. They are attractive to airlines, as they are cheaper than a fully integrated IFE system and quick to install.

“Some technological solutions might introduce safety risks which are not easy to foresee. For this reason, safety authorities and operators need to remain aware of the potential risks,” an EASA spokesman said.

Job Heimerikx, CEO of Dutch portable wireless network provider AirFi, told ATW that every component of his company’s products are designed to meet aviation safety requirements.

“AirFi has studied the SIB and concludes that all AirFi Solutions are within the limits as cited within the recommendations,” he said. “In addition to this, we have included several preventive safety features that manage, monitor and track the performance of the AirFi boxes on a continued basis.”An IATA spokesman said airlines will need to perform their own risk assessments to ensure they meet the recommendations of the SIB.

“This isn’t something we are doing anything with, it’s something individual airlines will have to take on as guidance,” the IATA spokesman said.*For more information go to

help desk software