A fire broke out on a passenger plane shortly before it was due to take off.

The luggage – including a power bank that uses lithium ion batteries – was in the overhead locker when it burst into flames on the China Southern Airlines Boeing.

Flight attendants and passengers doused the flames using water and orange juice – it was just fortunate the plane hadn’t already taken off.  To watch the drama go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuRfxQIpsPc

A replacement aircraft was needed which departed after a delay of 3 hours, no doubt at considerable expense to the airline company.

A power bank is a portable charger for mobile devices that supplies power from its built-in batteries through a USB port.

This is the latest in an ever growing number of fires in electronic devices on board aircraft ranging from mobile phones through to headphones powered by lithium ion batteries.

Planes carrying 100 passengers could have around 500 lithium batteries on board when you tot up all the laptops, cameras, e-readers, tablet computers and mobile phones .. and they pose a potential fire danger.

All are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries but there is always a possibility that poor quality or damaged batteries can overheat, causing the device to catch fire.

This is known as thermal runaway, a rapid, uncontrolled chemical reaction within the battery that causes the internal temperature to rise. When one cell in a battery overheats it can produce enough heat - up to 900°C (1652°F) - to cause adjacent cells to overheat. This can cause a lithium battery fire to flare repeatedly.

Research shows there are 1,233 commercial airline companies worldwide and they operate 24,829 planes every day. The number of electronic gadgets in the air at any one time is mind boggling ... and things can go wrong.

* Several major airline companies now use AvSax fire containment bags in case electronic devices, including phone chargers, catch fire mid flight.

They are used to deal with burning electronic devices ranging from laptops and mobile phones to e-cigarettes. 

They were deployed on aircraft 20 times in 2017. 

If an electronic device starts to seriously overheat or emit smoke the cabin crew will pour at least two litres of water into an AvSax and then drop the burning device into the bag, adding additional water as required. The water activates the polymer gel inside the bag causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the force. 

The AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery catching fire but if it does go into what is known as thermal runaway when all the battery cells catch fire at incredibly hot temperatures it is all contained within the bag.

Amazingly, the water is absorbed into the internal lining of the bag so the device is dry when it is removed.