Australian authorities have issued a new warning about the dangers of carrying loose lithium ion batteries on aircraft after a passenger’s hand luggage burst into flames on a plane at Sydney Airport.
Fortunately the plane was on the ground and the blaze was soon brought under control. The incident follows several others, including one on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Los Angeles just a few weeks ago, where a passenger’s mobile phone, presumably powered by the same sort of battery, caught fire when trapped in a seat recline mechanism and crushed. See: Seat crushes phone and starts fire on Qantas LAX flight.
In 2015, a report by plane makers found firefighting systems on airlines would be unable to suppress or extinguish a fire involving significant quantities of lithium ion batteries.
Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, has reminded airline passengers to carefully consider items in their carry-on luggage.
“On this occasion the battery caught fire while the plane was on the ground and the issue was resolved. Whilst there was no damage to the aircraft, several passengers did report feeling ill. This incident serves as a warning to the dangers of carrying these batteries on flights,” Chester said.
“We are all reminded before boarding of potential items, including loose lithium ion batteries, that should not fly.
“Most passengers would be aware of the more obvious hazardous items that should not board an airplane including flammable liquids, dangerous chemicals or compressed gases, but everyday items must also be considered before boarding including toiletries, aerosols and tools.
“The Australian Government has in place regulations designed to ensure the safety of passengers, but it is also everyone’s responsibility to declare dangerous items.
“In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority works closely with airlines and the aviation industry to minimise the risk of in-flight incidents. In recent years it has increased the focus on the carriage of personal electronic devices.
“I urge all travellers to read the warnings about dangerous items when checking in and surrender these items before boarding for the safety of everyone on the flight,” Chester said.
Meat cleavers, crowbars, scalpels, hammers, crossbows, axes, spear-guns and straight razors are banned (obviously) but so is any piece of wood or metal “big enough to threaten a person” – and a lot of other things as well.
“If in doubt, ask!” That’s the rule of thumb that air safety authorities ask everyone to remember.
Details of what should and should not be taken on planes can be found here.
Written by Peter Needham