A Virgin Atlantic flight was forced to make an emergency landing after a seat caught fire.
According to the Associated Press, the plane was on its way from New York’s JFK Airport to London Heathrow, when it was forced to land at Boston’s Logan Airport.
It happened when smoke and flames started emanating from a passenger seat. Fortunately, all 217 passengers on board were evacuated on time, and no one was hurt.
The crew onboard extinguished the fire and conducted an investigation upon landing, which revealed wires sticking out from the affected area. “A battery pack consistent in appearance with an external phone charger was found between the cushions of the seat that ignited,” according to police.
The reason why the battery pack caught fire is not clear although there are many things which can lead to modern lithium-ion batteries going into flames.
One of those is, for example, using an incompatible charger that can drive too much current into a battery, causing the battery to smoke or even catch fire.
Although battery packs usually include safety mechanisms that can shut down a device in case a problem is detected, these are not 100% reliable, as we’ve seen with Samsung phones, Apple laptops, or other powered devices.
In the US and Europe, airlines forbid portable lithium-ion batteries in checked luggage.
However, they are allowed in carry-on luggage within a maximum of 100Wh, or up to 160Wh with prior airline approval. There are countries where airlines restrict the use of portable battery chargers for extra safety.
The case is investigated by both Massachusetts state police and Virgin Atlantic.