Virgin Atlantic flight forced to land after battery charger catches fire


Posts: 7,088   +62
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The A330 Airbus was on route to London’s Heathrow but had to land in Boston's Logan Airport at about 8.50pm local time, less than an hour after it left JFK airport, “due to reports of smoke in the cabin.”

Massachusetts State Police said the crew extinguished the fire before landing and all 217 passengers were safely evacuated, though one passenger refused treatment for a smoke-related complaint. Bomb disposal officers found a device between the cushions of a seat where it had ignited.

"Preliminary investigation suggests it is a battery pack consistent in appearance with an external phone charger," a police spokesman told reporters.

As reported by the BBC, one passenger, Maria, disputes that the fire had been caused by a charger. "It took about two minutes to put it out," she said.

Virgin said it was investigating the incident.

“The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we are currently investigating to fully understand the circumstances,” a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said.

“We’d like to thank our customers for their patience as we work with them to provide local accommodation or to rebook alternative flights to their final destination.”

This isn't the first incident of a gadget causing a fire in a plane. One of the highly explosive Galaxy Note 7s went up in smoke when its owner was boarding Southwest Airlines 944 from Louisville to Baltimore in 2016, resulting in all passengers being evacuated and the flight’s cancelation. And in 2017, an exploding headphone battery burned a woman during a flight.

In March this year, the US banned lithium-ion batteries from passenger planes’ cargo holds, but they are still allowed in the aircrafts’ cabin.

Image credit: Craig Russell via Shutterstock

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Posts: 1,389   +2,459
No biggie. As mentioned power banks are mandated to be in the cabin these days so any fire can be extinguished by the crew. Their size is also restricted on commercial flights so you can't carry a bag full on there that could really cause major issues. Lithium batteries have brought down planes in the past when they have caught fire in the hold (UPS Flight 6 one particularly infamous incident) so they are classed as hazardous cargo and monitored.

The individual ones lots of people carry will definitely continue to catch fire fairly regularly on aircraft. When you fly more than half the people on the planet every year it is a statistical inevitability. It wasn't the first and won't be the last.

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,167   +6,925
They can't come up with a complete replacement for for the LI batteries soon enough! What ever happened to the developer that had a medium that went between the cells that would not support combustion? They showed the batteries even being pierced and refused to react. That needs to be brought out of the closet and mandated immediately to end all these preventable accidents!


Posts: 1,837   +791
Given the amount of flights, it's still rare. People need to shut down the phones while charging. Using it while charging at the same time can cause things to overheat.