The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has advised aircraft passengers to take extra care of their electronic devices aboard aircraft following two separate safety incidents involving crushed smartphones on 21 October 2016.
In both instances, the business-class passengers inadvertently crushed their phones while moving their seats, after their devices were accidently dropped down the side of the seat, the ATSB stated yesterday.
The first incident occurred when the aircraft was descending into London. As the cabin crew was serving the passenger, the seat was moved electronically, crushing the passenger’s smartphone and resulting in the phone emitting smoke.
The phone had been on charge at the time. Once the charging cable was removed, the smoke started to dissipate. The phone was placed in a metal bin and covered with water.
In a second incident, while flying to Sydney, a passenger asked a cabin crew member to help retrieve his phone from the seat after it got stuck there while he was sleeping.
The phone was damaged during the retrieval process, and it started to make intermittent bright flashes and a hissing noise.
The crew quickly placed the phone in a steel jug of water with no injury or damage to the aircraft.
The operator is undertaking a range of safety actions to prevent future occurrences. This includes changes to safety briefings reminding passengers not to move their seats when their devices have been lost and to ask a crew member to recover the phone.
These two incidents follow other similar occurrences investigated by the ATSB:
- On 21 June 2016, a passenger’s personal electronic device caught fire while flying from Los Angeles to New York in the US.
- On 15 May 2016, cabin crew located a passenger’s electronic device tightly wedged in the seat mechanism after it emitted smoke during a flight from Sydney, Australia to Dallas in the US.
In all these incidents, the cabin crew provided an effective response to an emergency situation.
The ATSB reminded passengers of the following:
- Phones should be kept in an approved stowage, unless in use.
- Passengers should locate their phone before moving powered seats.
- In the event that a passenger cannot locate their phone, they should refrain from moving their seat and immediately contact a cabin crew member.
- Passengers should always follow the directions of cabin crew.
Edited by Peter Needham