Fire extinguishers are an important safety provision within aviation and commercial airlines considering the threat fire poses where evacuation isn’t possible. So, it’s no surprise that the industry demands high-performance, fast-response products that are suitable for use in confined spaces. For many years Halon extinguishers ticked all the boxes in aviation; they were small, compact and highly effective at fighting fires. They were also declared completely safe to use in confined spaces, leaving no residue after use, but their effect on the environment was significant.
Although the production of Halon was ceased in 1994 because of its contribution to the depletion of the Ozone Layer, it was deemed acceptable for use in ‘critical applications’ including aviation and commercial airlines. However, a phase-out order was placed on the CFC gas and in 2014 Airbus invited us to participate in a call for tender to develop a suitable alternative.
Up to this point, several extinguishing agents have been proposed and approved as an alternative to Halon. However, they all require significantly more agent to achieve the same test fire rating and subsequently their overall size and weight is larger than the Halon benchmark. This means they were not commercially viable for adoption by commercial airlines.