Crushed phone causes British Airways plane to make emergency landing

A British Airways flight had to make an emergency landing … due to a mobile phone.

The device overheated after it was crushed in a seat on board the flight from Gatwick to Tampa in Florida and had to divert to Bermuda.

The crush damaged the phone’s lithium battery, sending it into what is known as thermal runaway. This happens 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 and incidents of thermal runaway are on the rise.

According to the Aviation Herald: “The crew decided to divert to Bermuda while smoke from an overheating mobile phone developed, that had been crushed in a business seat mechanism and suffered a thermal runaway. While the flight crew diverted the aircraft cabin crew attempted to release the phone out of the seat mechanism and secure it.

“A passenger reported a fellow passenger in the business class had dropped his mobile phone into the seat, then while trying to get his phone out operated the seat mechanism which crushed the phone. Smoke emanated from the seat.

“Another passenger reported they were told about fumes/fire from a passenger phone that had been trapped inside a business class seat. After landing in Bermuda the aircraft briefly stopped on the runway, then taxied to a stand where firefighters boarded the aircraft.

“They were subsequently instructed to disembark without their hand luggage. Later they were able to embark the aircraft again, the aircraft was able to continue the flight before the crew ran out of time. The crew made an announcement: “the phone will never work again.”

During safety announcements airlines now advise passengers to alert a flight attendant if they lose their phone in the seat. Lithium batteries can quickly overheat and, if damaged, can start a fire. According to the Federal Aviation Administration there were 46 lithium-ion battery fires on flights around the world in 2017.

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.