Why a mobile phone caused a passenger plane to make an emergency landing

A passenger jet bound for the USA made an emergency landing in Ireland after cabin crew found a suspicious mobile phone on board.

The Air France flight was two hours into its journey to Chicago and 150 miles off the north west Irish coast when the phone was found and when no passengers on board claimed it the pilot decided to divert to Shannon Airport for “security reasons.”

When the flight landed it was followed along the runway by airport fire crews who were mobilised as a precaution as the aircraft had made an overweight landing.

The Airbus jet was directed to a remote taxiway where airport police were waiting to meet the aircraft.

The phone was removed from the plane and taken to the terminal building where it was scanned but nothing suspicious was found. It’s now thought the phone may have been left on the aircraft by a passenger from a previous flight and that it had not been spotted when the aircraft was cleaned later.

The jet was later moved to the terminal building where it was refuelled before continuing its journey to Chicago.

Mobile phones have been known to catch fire on board planes, especially if they are lost down seats and then crushed when the seat is moved to try to retrieve them. The lithium batteries that power them along with other small electronic devices ranging from tablets to laptops have been known to go into thermal runaway which causes the batteries to catch fire. During thermal runaway, one cell overheating in a battery 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.

Lithium-ion battery fires on board planes are rarely publicised but a fire in a device could emit toxic smoke and potentially the battery may even explode, causing damage to the aircraft and putting lives at risk.

AvSax are the world’s best-selling aircraft fire containment bags by far and are now on more than 15,373 aircraft operated by 75 airline companies across the world and have been used 31 times to deal with emergencies since the start of 2017. AvSax won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the UK in 2018.