American Airlines passengers flying from Dallas to Indianapolis, Thursday, got more than they bargained for when a passenger’s e-cig malfunctioned and sparked a fire in the cabin, according to ABC News.
Well-trained crew members acted quickly to extinguish the fire and the Associated Press reported that none of the 137 passengers were injured. The plane made an emergency landing at Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. American Airlines sent a different plane to Arkansas so complete the trip and the original aircraft returned to Dallas. There, it was inspected and no damage was discovered.
In October 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a rule banning e-cigs and other battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices from checked baggage. The rule was implemented following recommendations from the Federal Aviation Administration and a policy change by the International Civil Aviation Organization regarding the transportation of dangerous goods. The two groups are charged with keeping air passengers safe. However, airline passengers are allowed to take the potentially dangerous devices in carry-on luggage.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published findings after reviewing fire incidents resulting from e-cigs and similar electronic smoking devices occurring between 2009 and 2014. Although based only on incidents reported by the media, the review of the 25 known incidents, provided a cursory look at the scope of the problem. It revealed most fires and explosions occurred while the battery was charging, yet one incident occurred during transportation on a cargo aircraft. The incidents resulted in nine burn injuries, including two serious injuries.
Additional high-profile incidents of spontaneously combusting e-cigs have caused significant injuries. The FEMA report noted that “[t]he shape and construction of e-cigs can make them more likely than other products with lithium-ion batteries to behave like ‘flaming rockets’ when a battery fails.”