Ten people needed hospital treatment after a fire on board a passenger plane was sparked by lithium batteries overheating and catching fire.
The emergency happened on a Sprit Airlines airbus when toxic smoke filled the cabin as the crew battled to douse a burning battery pack charger in an overhead locker.
The aircraft flying from Dallas in Texas to Orlando in Florida on March 1, 2023, was forced to divert and make an emergency landing at Jacksonville International Airport in Florida just before 4pm, 156 miles from its destination.
Crew and passengers, including a retired firefighter, tackled the fire as smoke filled the cabin with one passenger suggesting it took 20 minutes to put the fire out.
Those taken to hospital included passengers and crew, but none were badly hurt.
Passenger Joseph Fleck said on Twitter there were more than 170 passengers on board and described the smoke as ‘toxic.’
He said: “A scary fire broke out during our Sprit Airlines flight. We made a quick descent and emergency landing into Jacksonville. After waiting for over an hour they grounded the plane and we had to find out own way to Orlando. All rental cars were sold out.”
Joseph had to hire an Uber which cost $200 but Spirit have been very good reimbursing him for the taxi, refunding his flight, providing food vouchers and a $100 future travel voucher.
Many aircraft equipped with thermal lithium battery fire containment bags can continue their journeys safely after such an incident as the overheating device can be quickly contained within it.
The world’s best-selling lithium battery fire mitigation bag is the AvSax now on board around 16,750 aircraft operated by more than 100 airline companies. AvSax have been deployed in action 33 times on board aircraft since 2017 and on every occasion the aircraft was able to continue safely to its destination with no need to divert or make an emergency landing.
Passengers routinely take hundreds of personal electronic devices such as mobiles phones, iPads and laptops on every flight on all airlines worldwide. All these devices are powered by lithium batteries and there is always a danger one could overheat, catch fire or even explode.
When it overheats it goes into a chemical process called thermal runaway and when this happens 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 and they are then very difficult to put out which is why it must go into an lithium battery fire containment bag as quickly as possible.
How do AvSax lithium battery fire mitigation bags work?
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.
It is imperative to first knock down the flames from the device using an on board halon fire extinguisher, then transfer the device into AvSax before it reignites. Additional water may then be added up to 20 litres.
The water disappears into the sides of the AvSax, activating the polymer gel inside the bag and causing it to expand around the device. Should the device keep on venting then the AvSax is tough enough to absorb the energy.
The AvSax cools the batteries in the device, reducing the likelihood of the battery igniting but if it does go into thermal runaway it’s all contained within the bag. The AvSax is made from military grade material so should it explode then the heat and debris will be confined within the bag.
For more information on AvSax go to www.avsax.com