Anna Crail was flying from Washington to Honolulu for spring break vacation. The aircraft carrying 163 passengers was 90 minutes away from landing when Crail’s iPhone 6 suddenly caught fire while she was watching a movie on her mobile device.
“All of a sudden there was like 8-inch flames coming out of my phone,” Crail recalled. She told KOMO-TV, “When it started I thought we were going down.”
In a panic, the 18-year-old dropped the phone onto the ground where it landed under another passenger’s seat. The flames rose higher and passengers scrambled into the aisle.
A flight attendant extinguished the fire, and no one was injured. The plane safely landed in Honolulu.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s investigating team is looking into the incident, but the cause of the fire is still currently unknown. Some believe the incident may be related to the phone’s lithium-ion battery, which have allegedly caused similar issues in the past. Faulty units that powered part of a Boeing aircraft caused several fires in 2013. As a result, airlines are banned from carrying cargo shipments containing lithium-ion batteries until the development of fire-resistant packaging.
Approximately 50% of all cell phone users in the U.S. have a smartphone. Today, the majority of our gadgets, particularly our mobile devices, are powered by lithium-ion batteries.
Airlines have banned passengers from packing these devices into checked baggage. Rather, it is safer to carry them into the cabin where, in the event of a fire, the situation can be identified and managed quickly.
These fires are rare when one considers the number of smartphones in use all over the world. However, this incident serves as a reminder that you are better safe than sorry.