Mobile phone catches fire after getting crushed in plane seat mechanism

·1-min read
 (AAIB)
(AAIB)

A phone caught fire mid-flight when it was crushed in a plane’s seat mechanism, according to a new report.

The incident occurred on 1 October 2020 on a flight from Miami to London Heathrow. There were 53 passengers onboard.

The report from the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said that cabin crew saw smoke coming from a passenger’s seat as the Boeing 787 aircraft was starting to descend.

The passenger, flying in a premium cabin, had put her lie-flat seat in an upright position around 40 minutes before landing.

While stowing the passenger’s bedding, a member of the flight crew smelt a strong “sulphur” odour that was getting stronger.

The report said: “At this point they heard a ‘hissing’ sound and a large plume of grey smoke emitted from the seat in a “tornado” motion. They remembered seeing an orange glow in the seat area amongst the smoke.”

This smoke had also travelled to the flight deck, where pilots reported an acrid smell.

Crew then found a mobile phone which had fallen down the side of the seat and had become crushed in the seat mechanism.

A senior flight attendant put out the fire using an onboard fire extinguisher, and the aircraft landed safely with no damage.

An image shared by the AAIB shows a red iPhone with charred casing.

The AAIB said a recommendation had been made to the Civil Aviation Authority to require that passenger seats are designed to minimise the likelihood of a device getting stuck.

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