DJI Inspire 1 Catches Fire On Passanger Plane


From an account on Twitter we found a post about a fire on a plane because of a drone! Wait, what? So it appears a DJI Inspire 1 caught fire in the overhead compartment, we do not know the cause of the fire but looks like a moderate one. Glad it happened on the ground and not the air! The attendants quickly put out the fire and removed the craft and its owner!




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  • Moderator

    We ship battery powered machines worldwide as "dangerous goods" and the primary requirement is to isolate the battery and protect the terminals from accidental contact and short circuit. For my Lipos I always remove them from the UAV and use a dummy plug to protect the terminals with tape over the balance plug, I do the same with the R/C Tx. this seems a normal thing to do for safety!

    Other causes of the Lipo fire could have been someone pushing baggage into the locker, There is another potential issue when the cabin pressure drops in normal flight, a puffed battery will expand in the lower pressure and may short. thats why they have the 100watt hour limit on each battery. 

  • Developer

    Thing is, lipo's does not spontaneously decide they are bored and start to burn.

    In reality there are only two scenarios for a lipo fire. Over voltage caused by faulty charging, or excessive current drain usually caused by shorting the cells. Leaving the battery on and completely draining them in a controlled fashion will ruin the battery, but not cause any smoke or fire. Done this many times with old batteries for safety before I trash them. If there is no energy left in the battery, it is just a block of plastic and metal.

    Meaning that during transport there must be some external factor for this to happen. Something that caused an short in the battery. My guess is one of two.

    - Previous hard landing/shock to battery causing internal damage to cells, and a delayed reaction caused by luggage handling

    - Bad solder job on internal battery wires from factory, coming lose when the case is moved around

  • In Australia you also have to have the batteries labelled with their capacity in watt hours. 

  • It's time to start up a drone battery rental business at every major airport. Not that I would want use a unknown battery in mine :-)

  • @John Githens thanks for appreciation. I am happy that this post brought some light on the topic of plane travel with lipos.

  • Moderator

    Hi OG

    I am sorry but you are getting your terms mixed up.

    The document I refered to is from Feb 2015 from the FAA and IATA. It is very specific and relates to carry on luggage and checked luggage. the carry on section specifies 100watt hours, not watts for our Lipo batteries.

    It also specifies how to calculate watt hours in Q3and A3 of the notes Wh = Volts * Amp hours  or in the case of a 3S 5000mah battery = 11.2V * 5Ah or 56watt hours. well within the 100watt hours limit. yes a 10000mah battery will be too large. the quantities are not specified as long as you can reasonably explain the amount you are carrying.

    Can a small battery provide 1000 watts or 1 Kw ? easily.........

    a small example. 

    4S5000 mah turningy battery is quoted as 1.2milli ohms internal resistance or 0.0012 ohms in HK. 

    if this has a dead short across the terminals then the current (I) flowing would be 16v / 0.0012 ohms or 13333amps. 

    instantaneous power = V * I or in this case 16 * 13333 amps or 213328 watts or 213Kw, (but not for long )

    Watt hours is instantaneous power over a time period (1 hr ) so our 5000 mah battery can provide 5 amps for a 1 hr period or 300 amps for 1 minute period or in our case above 13333 amps for 1.5 seconds approx. still a damn big flash and smoke. 

    remember as well that the battery rating is the capacity and current you can take from the battery in normal use without causing damage. these ratings do not specify what the battery is actually capable of providing in a fault condition. 

    I take that document and my Lipos on aircraft many times each year with no problems. I do take the document with me as many TSA agents do not know the correct figures. 

  • The confusion is watts versus watt hours, please look at the FAA circular regarding this: for the most part the limitation is not a problem unless you are taking really big batteries.

    Although I expect after this incident and others bound to occur, things may change, LiPos going postal on Airplanes is not something that is likely to be allowed to continue.

  • There were a lot of changes in 2015 as to transporting of Lithium batteries on aircraft.

    Those are the current regulations:

  • By the way, there is at least one discussion thread on about precautions for traveling, like this one.

  • Moderator

    Sorry OG but you have an error here, you cannot measure just Watts in terms of battery capacity or power. A tiny battery can produce 1000watts in the right circumstances. You CAN take batteries on board and it is legal to do so, there are limits but 1000w is not in the standard, see my other post please. 

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