A lithium battery in an e-cigarette sparked a fire on board an easyJet plane which made an emergency landing minutes later.
The easyJet Airbus had just taken off from Geneva in Switzerland on Thursday, May 18, 2023, when passengers heard a popping sound and then smoke started to spiral from an overhead locker.
According to the Aviation Herald, when crew opened the locker they found two pieces of luggage in flames.
It’s thought the lithium battery in an e-cigarette inside one of the bags had gone into what’s known as thermal runaway, setting fire to the bag and the flames then spread to the other bag. The crew managed to extinguish the fire.
The plane with 191 people on board was climbing at around 7,000ft when this happened so the pilots abandoned the climb, donned oxygen masks and then landed back at Geneva 16 minutes after taking off.
Emergency services came on board the aircraft to make sure the fire was fully out as lithium batteries can keep flaring up even though the initial fire may have been doused.
The easyJet plane had been due to fly to Amsterdam but the flight was postponed to the next day.
When lithium batteries overheat they go into a chemical process called thermal runaway and when this happens 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.
Thousands of aircraft worldwide now carry AvSax lithium battery fire containment bags which won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the UK for their innovation – the highest award any business can get.
They are now on board around 16,750 aircraft operated by more than 100 airline companies worldwide, including some of the best-known names in the aviation industry.
AvSax have been deployed in action at least 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.
To find out more about Avsax go to www.avsax.com