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Thread: Air travel barometric stress & SF

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Hi all,

    As title of this thread states, I have a question about air travel with Surefires or most lights in general. Since they are O-ring sealed and the pressure is greater at lower elevation than the ~8,000 simulated air pressure in most airliner cabins at crusing altitude,..could there ever be damage from barometric stress on these lights? I'm going from sea level to cruising altitude for 14 hours both ways very soon with an E2E and M6.

    TSA makes a lot of hype about barometric stress and how it can damage you and/or your stuff if your not careful.(i think the biggest risk for most people is drinking on a plane.)

    Batman
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    If they are in your carry-on baggage, they will be in a pressurized cabin. If they will be in the cargo hold you could remove the batteries and tailcap. Batteries should be well packed in plastic tubes or such.

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    *Flashaholic* nbp's Avatar
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    Default

    I have never in 5 yrs here heard of a problem with a flashlight resulting from pressure changes in an airplane.

    If my can of shaving cream doesn't blow up in the luggage compartment, a flashlight certainly won't. I suspect the o-rings would give long before the flashlight itself would suffer any damage.
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Quote Originally Posted by nbp View Post
    I have never in 5 yrs here heard of a problem with a flashlight resulting from pressure changes in an airplane.

    If my can of shaving cream doesn't blow up in the luggage compartment, a flashlight certainly won't. I suspect the o-rings would give long before the flashlight itself would suffer any damage.
    I had an iPhone BLOW UP right after a trip to Vancouver.
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    I would put the batteries in a pelican, otterbox.
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    Flashaholic Qoose's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    I don't think I've ever heard anything from the TSA that was either useful or true.

    The pressure might tickle our lights a little. Having taken a variety of lights hiking in at high altitudes, all my lights have been fine. Nothing more than a Nalgene hissing at me after hiking from 4000 to 8000 feet. Used my SF to check for bears that night. Also, I'm pretty sure I took my Zebralight skydiving with me (0, to 12k, back to 0 AGL really fast) and it's still my happy EDC.

    Maybe if you fly twice every day, the pressure might fatigue something, but I would bet against it.

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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Quote Originally Posted by batman View Post
    Hi all,


    TSA makes a lot of hype about barometric stress and how it can damage you and/or your stuff if your not careful.(i think the biggest risk for most people is drinking on a plane.)

    Batman
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    it certanly seem that the pressure change noted on a commercial airline flight would be a lot less that taking the light 40 feet underwater.

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    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Interesting thoughts, I'd agree that there's probably nothing to worry about. I once left a brinkman max fire XL in the checked compartment for an unpressurized ride to almost 40,000 ft. no problems.
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  9. #9
    Flashaholic* ABTOMAT's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Even on a completely sealed Surefire light I'd think the only thing that could happen is the tailcap switch swelling a little. Someone once posted a photo of a SF that the batteries exploded in--the switch boot was inflated like a balloon.

    Reminds me of my old army snow boots that had a valve to let the air out when you went up in a plane.
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    Thread Killer Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    I've shipped my M3T in the cargo hold of 767s beside my socks and underwear for over half a dozen international flights lasting over 18 hours each. The occaisional "freeze over" is common, but I found greasing the O-rings helps alot.

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* batman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    I think what I'm going to do is keep the E2E in my carry on, ready to go with batteries installed. Plus the surefires SC 2/4 spares carrier with 6 cr123a primaries in the same carry on. I'm hoping these batteries are safe for that. (I'm sure thousands of airline pilots also carry a 2 X CR123A light each day too.)

    On another note, I'm taking my son's RC race car that uses a 4 X aa rechargable NiCad battery pack. Empire, is that the kind of battery that exploded in your car?
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  12. #12
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    Is this still true with the pressurized chamber and the unpressurized luggage compartment?
    Because to me it seems much easier to build a plane totally sealing at all outsides instead of some "pressure wall" inside the plane ...



    PS: have everything it the hand luggage

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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    I've taken my 6p several times on a nice plane ride around North America, and a cruise in the caribbean without any issues. My surefire L7 also went on a nice ride without issue. The 6p was always in the carryon, but the L7 was in the cargo area for a round trip flight. I didn't even take the battery out. No problems at all.

  14. #14
    Administrator Norm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    IMHO your flashlight is capable of handling far greater pressure changes than the aircraft itself.

    Norm

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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Unless I'm being dim, the body of the light will have a maximum of c.15psi of pressure acting on it...

    http://mobile.engineeringtoolbox.com...ure-d_462.html

    Sort of related topic- batteries should be kept in your hand luggage according to TSA rules..

    GM

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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Our atmosphere at sea level is 15 psi or 1 bar. To get to 1/2 bar or 7.5 psi you would have to go up to 18,000 ft.
    Even if the flashlights were totally sealed ( like a dive light that can stand 10 bar outside) the cheapie plastic cases could easily tolerate the 5 or 6 psi ( 0.3 bar ) internal pressure difference at cabin pressure.
    So how much more could the heavy duty cases tolerate? I guess , a lot.
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Quote Originally Posted by gravelmonkey View Post
    Sort of related topic- batteries should be kept in your hand luggage according to TSA rules..

    GM
    TSA rules... Even as a LEO I dislike the TSA.. and their rules. But safety first

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    SF have pretty tight tolerances, so there is only a small amount of air inside the reflector, and maybe a little around the rear spring. Worst that will happen is that the boot might swell a little bit, then return to normal. The actual light won't suffer damage, simply because the thickness of the materials being used, and the tight tolerances. I wouldn't want to take a light to the extremes (deep ocean, or space) but flying shouldn't be a problem. Take your lights in carry on if allowed, it saves the hassles, and also saves them getting stolen.
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  19. #19
    Flashaholic Bicycleflyer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    In 25+ years of flying all kinds of airplanes (presently a 747) I have never heard of a flashlight rupturing due to differential pressure. Even in unpressurized airplanes as high up as 15,000. Most airliners are designed to climb up to a cabin altitude of 8000 feet. But you will only reach that if the airplane is at it's max altitude, which is unlikely. In most cases your cabin will be pressurized to an altitude equal to about 5 or 6000 feet. Which should pose no problem.

    Yes, the TSA requires you to carry your Lithium batteries in your carry on luggage. They must be carried in such a way that they will not short out on anything loose in your baggage. The easiest way to do this is simply wrap some tape around the ends. Additionally, if the batteries are being carried in your flashlight, then that is considered an acceptable method as well. This rule came about after several incidents, most noteably the UPS DC-8 that emergency landed in PHL.

    FWIW, I carry a surefire in my professional equipment and a spare set of batteries in one of those slim-line battery caddies. Never had a problem.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    You can just twist the tailcap until the o ring does not seal anymore, and leave it that way until you get off the flight.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    I can't imagine it being an issue. Flashlights get shipped from the retailers to our homes successfully.

  22. #22
    Thread Killer Illum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Quote Originally Posted by skypirate View Post
    I can't imagine it being an issue. Flashlights get shipped from the retailers to our homes successfully.
    I can't imagine commercial flashlight manufacturers shipped their products from one continent to another by air... that would be way too cost prohibitive. It would be way more cost effective to use a crate instead.

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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Quote Originally Posted by Illum View Post
    I can't imagine commercial flashlight manufacturers shipped their products from one continent to another by air... that would be way too cost prohibitive. It would be way more cost effective to use a crate instead.
    They do ship some by air like say, Federal Express (FedEx) Air

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Consider this:

    If a flashlight was sealed at sea level and then exposed to a perfect vacuum, the internal pressure would be 14.7 psi.

    At 75°F, the pressure in a can of Coca Cola is approximately 55 psi gauge and the paper-thin aluminum walls handle that easily.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Quote Originally Posted by Illum View Post
    I can't imagine commercial flashlight manufacturers shipped their products from one continent to another by air... that would be way too cost prohibitive. It would be way more cost effective to use a crate instead.
    I wouldn't expect flashlight manufacturers to ship their products from one continent to another by air either. I was trying specify that domestic retailers will ship flashlights to our homes by air.

    BTW, I've experienced the "freeze over" you mentioned in your previous post. Purchased an Apple computer in an Apple store back around 2006. When I opened it, there was a lot of condensation inside the box. Took it back and exchanged it for dry one. The store said Apple was shipping the computers to the stores by FexEx Air.

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    Flashaholic* Cataract's Avatar
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    Default Re: Air travel barometric stress & SF

    Quote Originally Posted by Norm View Post
    IMHO your flashlight is capable of handling far greater pressure changes than the aircraft itself.

    Norm
    +1

    A lot of my lights, if not most, got here by plane. I don't see why I wouldn't be able to take them on a plane after opening the cardboard box. I think the coke cans they serve would blow up long before flashlights would.
    Cataract,

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