Wednesday 20 September 2017

Plane passenger suffers burns as headphones catch fire on long-haul flight

Burns suffered by passenger. Picture Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
Burns suffered by passenger. Picture Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A woman suffered burns to her face after her battery-powered headphones caught fire on a long-haul flight.

According to reports the incident happened on a plane travelling from Beijing to Melbourne. It prompted warnings about the dangers of battery-operated devices.

Burns suffered by passenger. Picture Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
Burns suffered by passenger. Picture Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)

The woman, who has not been identified, said she heard a loud explosion about two hours into the flight.

“As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she told the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). “I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck.

“I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire.

“As I went to stamp my foot on them the flight attendants were already there with a bucket of water to pour on them. They put them into the bucket at the rear of the plane.”

She said the battery and cover were both melted and stuck to the floor of the aircraft.

According to the ATSB the lithium-ion batteries most likely caught fire but it did not specify the brand.

Burns suffered by passenger. Picture Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
Burns suffered by passenger. Picture Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)

"As the range of products using batteries grows, the potential for in-flight issues increases," it said in the report.

It also published the following guidelines:

  • batteries should be kept in an approved stowage, unless in use
  • spare batteries must be in your carry-on baggage not checked baggage
  • if a passenger’s smart phone or other device has fallen into the seat gap, locate their device before moving powered seats
  • if a passenger cannot locate their device, they should refrain from moving their seat and immediately contact a cabin crew member.

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