Smartphone lost on QANTAS 'began hissing, emitting smoke and making orange glow'

Passenger reported it lost but when crew tried to find it, the business class seat struck!

Pic Those in-flight warnings not to try finding your phone when it disappears into a plane seat?

Take 'em seriously people: a new investigation into an in-air fire shows that even air crew aren't good finding phones.

The newly-revealed incident took place on a 747 operated by Australian airline QANTAS when it was 500 km WNW of John F. Kennedy International Airport on June 21st.

“At about 0700 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a cabin crewmember responded to a request for assistance from a passenger seated in business class seat 3A,” the report states. The passenger wanted help finding a phone – personal electronic device or PED in air-safety speak - that had disappeared into the depths of one of QANTAS' lovely lie-flat seats.

The crew member duly started rummaging around for the phone, but “While searching, the seat position was moved. As the seat moved, the passenger in the next seat observed the PED within the seat mechanism.”

“The seat was then inadvertently moved, resulting in the PED being crushed. The crushed PED immediately began hissing and emitting smoke. Moments later, the PED ignited. A second crewmember then initiated the basic fire drill.”

When that second crew member arrived “they observed an orange glow emanating from the seat. A crewmember discharged a fire extinguisher into the seat, extinguishing the glow.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau praises QANTAS' crew for sorting out the fire before things got nasty and says “This incident also highlights the hazards of transporting lithium-ion battery powered PEDs aboard aircraft.”

And also highlights, The Register reckons, the importance of making this kind of thing the crew's problem, not your own. With safety announcements now forbidding phone-foraging it's surely better to have the crew light a fire than to do so yourself. ®

Click here for a pic of the phone, for those of you reading this on ... ummm ... phones!


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