A plane carrying 142 people has diverted and made an emergency landing after a malfunctioning e-cigarette began smoking and sparking.
Airlines around the world have been busy taking measures against mobile phones that burst into flames when crushed in seat-recline machinery or, in some cases (such as the Galaxy Note 7) spontaneously. Occasionally electronic smoking devices do the same thing.
American Airlines flight 1129, an MD-80, was en route to Indianapolis from Dallas-Fort Worth when a passenger’s e-cigarette battery overheated.
Passenger Gina Wood told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the suspect device started “smoking and sparking” until cabin crew grabbed it, put it in the first class toilet and blasted it several times with a fire extinguisher.
After the flight diverted to Little Rock, Arkansas, a replacement plane was sent to let passengers continue their journey.
An airline spokesman told CNET “the device went into thermal runaway, which resulted in a small fire. Thanks to the quick actions of our crew members, the fire was extinguished”.
Thermal runaway is when a device overheats and the overheating creates a further, higher-magnitude rise in heat.
The US Federal Aviation Administration last year issued rules on electronic smoking devices powered by lithium batteries. The rules let passengers in the US carry such devices in the cabin but not in checked baggage. They may not use or charge them during flight.
Written by Peter Needham