Saturday, May 5, 2012

Australia: Crew Member Uses Fire Extinguisher to Stop iPhone from Smoking In-Flight

In an in-flight incident that occurred in November 2011, an investigation by the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau (ATSB) found that a small metal screw had been misplaced in an iPhone's battery bay, subsequently punctured the battery casing, causing an internal short circuit that led to overheating, which increased as the battery reacted and began to break down.

The investigation was prompted during an Australian Regional Express flight en-route to Sydney when a crew member was forced to use a fire extinguisher to extinguish an iPhone which had overheated and was emitting smoke in the cabin.

COMMENT: The ATSB said passengers should be aware of the safety measures related to flying with lithium battery-powered devices. "When travelling with mobile phones, laptops and other portable electronic devices, or just their batteries, passengers should, wherever possible, carry them in the cabin, and not in checked-in baggage," the ATSB's report emphasized. 

The incident also highlights the importance of good maintenance and repair processes for these devices, and the risk of using non-authorised repair agents.

The ATSB also indicated that there was no history of a similar occurrence in the ATSB's database occurring on an aircraft in Australia.