US Jet Blue flight diverted after battery fire

(May 31)Jet Blue flight 915 from JFK airport in New York to San Francisco was diverted after a battery in a laptop caused a fire in a passenger's backpack and started emitting a great deal of smoke.

The backpack was in the rear of the plane when it started to belch out smoke passengers said. One passenger said: “We’re at 35,000 feet and all of a sudden we hear an announcement and we look back in row 25 and we saw everybody standing up and smoke coming around and we didn’t know what was going on.” Kat Honniball, another passenger on the flight said that people began to smell smoke and saw it was coming from a backpack: "I was stunned — I knew something was going to happen because, you know, lithium batteries catching on fire when you're up at 38,000 feet you can't help but think you've got to do something." He said that passengers and crew remained calm during the incident. Although the fire was put out, the plane was diverted to Grand Rapids Michigan where it sat for three hours while emergency crews removed the battery from the plane and inspected it. There was no damage. The plane then continued its flight to San Franciso. The plane was carrying 158 people. The actual battery was not a laptop battery. Grand Rapids Ford Airport spokeswoman Tara Hernandez confirmed that a lithium battery started smoldering, but said that it was not a laptop battery. There was a laptop in the bag with it though, she said.
Only a very small percentage of lithium-ion batteries ever catch fire or explode but as more and more devices contain them the probability of more incidents such as this increases. Last year, Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smart phones were banned from US and Canadian flight last year after several instances of fires and explosions.
There have been 12 instances of battery-related fires on aircraft already this year. Some airlines even stock fire-proof bags for the express purpose of extinguishing any battery fires although Jet Blue did not have any. These incidents show that the banning of laptops from the aircraft cabin may be a bad idea:The potential flammability of laptop batteries is also one concern experts have voiced over the potential expansion of a laptop ban on international flights into the U.S.: a battery fire in the passenger cabin can be quickly spotted and contained, but one in the baggage hold could do significantly more damage.
The US which already bans laptops on direct flights to the US from several Muslim-majority countries but may extend the ban to all aircraft coming into or out of the company. The move is sad to be for security reasons but it could result in planes crashing because of fires in the cargo part of the aircraft caused by fires or explosions of lithium batteries.


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