The new LiTRIC system co-developed by Ortovox and Arc’teryx has been delayed in the U.S. and voluntarily recalled in Europe due to an unspecified “technical” issue.
In the past few days, Ortovox and Arc’Teryx have decided to delay the delivery of their LiTRIC avalanche packs. The new LiTRIC system was co-developed by the two companies and was slated for sale beginning this fall. Ortovox and Arc’Teryx have not sold packs in the U.S. market. However, Ortovox sold units in Europe and has issued a voluntary recall of units in Europe.
The LiTRIC is an electric airbag system that relies on a lithium-Ion battery and supercapacitors to power airbag inflation.
The recall protocol in the U.S. often involves the CPSC or Consumer Product Safety Commission. Backcountry skiers are likely familiar with the CPSC through the recent avalanche transceiver recalls. Since Ortovox/Arc’Teryx sold no products in the U.S., the recall does not involve the CPSC. And in fact, Ortovox U.S. is not calling it a recall.
The Voluntary Recall
Here’s what we have so far. First, the LiTRIC packs are voluntarily recalled according to Ortovox’s site. Second, the language used in the notices about the LiTRIC system are specific to geographic regions. Again, no packs were sold in the U.S., so there is no official or voluntary recall. We do not have information regarding packs sold in Canada; we’ll update the story with any new and relevant information.
One more time: the global site for Ortovox calls this a voluntary recall. Here in the U.S., where this is not an official action (we all know that language regarding personal protective equipment like avalanche safety gear and official government regulations is essential), does not call this a recall or voluntary recall.
The recent notices issued by Ortovox state the following regarding the LiTRIC system, “Unfortunately, we became aware of a technical issue. In rare cases, this issue impacts the airbag’s inflation system and diminished its protective effect.”
WildSnow reached out to Ortovox to learn more about the technical issue and when it came to light. We will include any new information as it becomes available.
Here’s the entire communication from Ortovox in the U.S.:
Update on AVABAG LiTRIC
Around four years ago, ORTOVOX and Arc’teryx joined forces, with the goal of developing an electronic avalanche airbag system that would set a new standard. The result: the LiTRIC™ SYSTEM, a milestone in mountain safety.
Unfortunately, we became aware of a technical issue. In rare cases, this issue impacts the airbag’s inflation system and diminished its protective effect.
For this reason, ORTOVOX has delayed delivery of all ORTOVOX AVABAG LiTRIC models including zip-ons (AVABAG LiTRIC TOUR, AVABAG LiTRIC FREERIDE, AVABAG LiTRIC ZERO).
The safety of our customers is of utmost importance to us and is our top priority. Our development process includes rigorous testing to not only meet industry standards, but often – where technically possible – to exceed them. With the development teams working closely together, we will take the time necessary to ensure that LiTRIC™ technology meets the high standards of quality and performance that Arc’teryx and ORTOVOX are known for. Therefore, both brands have decided to stop selling all products with LiTRIC™ technology for the 22/23 season and are aiming to resume sales for the 23/24 season.
ORTOVOX continues to believe in the innovative strength of the electronic LiTRIC technology, and apologize for the delay this season.
Are other AVABAG models affected?
The issue affects ONLY the electronic airbag models with LiTRIC technology from the 22/23 season. Mechanical AVABAGs with cartridge systems are NOT affected.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with ORTOVOX U.S. at email@example.com
The Unrelated IATA Backstory
Like many WildSnow readers, we first learned of a LiTRIC hiccup via a comment on the site. According to a reader, they could not fly with a LiTRIC bag from Zurich to the U.S. The bag in question was flagged for having a non-removable lithium-Ion battery that exceeded the IATA’s limit for Li-ion batteries fixed in baggage. (The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association that helps determine policies and regulations for international air travel.)
In a document dated January 2021, the IATA states, “Baggage with installed lithium batteries non-removable batteries exceeding–0.3 g lithium metal or 2.7 Wh.” are “forbidden.”
The key language here is non-removable. The LiTRIC’s lithium battery is 7.4 Wh, which exceeds the limit as it is non-removable. Although WildSnow knows of several instances where individuals have flown with a LiTRIC pack, a strict interpretation and application of the IATA rules, would prohibit it.
Jason Albert comes to WildSnow from Bend, Oregon. After growing up on the East Coast, he migrated from Montana to Colorado and settled in Oregon. Simple pleasures are quiet and long days touring. His gray hair might stem from his first Grand Traverse in 2000 when rented leather boots and 210cm skis were not the speed weapons he had hoped for. Jason survived the transition from free-heel kool-aid drinker to faster and lighter (think AT), and safer, are better.
Interesting. Thanks for the details. Article idea, can we have an article that interviews air bag designers about the life span of an air bag? I have an original BD Jetforce, seems to work fine, but I’d like to know when I should replace. If I recall the only guidance in the owner’s manual is that it’s good for 50 deployments, but that seem arbitrary.
I’ll look into that Travis. Thanks for the idea.
5 years is what BD told me about jetforce lifespan. They said because the materials are meant to be lifesaving, packs should be retired after 5 years. Similar to climbing soft goods.
This is a topic manufacturers should disclose. It’s very hard to find this info and seems to vary based on who you talk to.
Thanks for this article. While researching airbags and thinking of finally laying out the “big dough” for one of these, I was focused in on the litric. You can look, but you sure couldn’t purchase. Now I know why.
What about Pieps/Black Diamond JetForce system? Battery seems to be not removable (haven’t found any info on that) and from the specification it is a Li-Ion with 57.6 Wh capacity. Do you have any experience flying with these bags?