Personal Injury

Passenger’s Headphones Explode On Flight From China To Australia

burn injury exploding headphones airplane image courtesy CNN 375x210 Passenger’s Headphones Explode On Flight From China To AustraliaAustralian authorities are investigating an explosion and fire caused by a pair of headphones that injured a female passenger about two hours into a flight from Beijing to Melbourne.

The passenger was sleeping while playing music on the headphones when she heard a loud explosion and felt a burning sensation on her face.

“I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck,” she told the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). “I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor.”

The passenger said the headphones were sparking and on fire. Flight attendants doused the device with a bucket of water and put it in a bucket at the rear of the aircraft. Part of the headphones and the were melted onto the floor of the airplane.

Pictures of the unidentified passenger show her face and neck blackened with soot, with blisters on both her hands and face.

The fight continued to its final destination without diverting, but passengers endured the acrid smell of burned hair and plastic that permeated the cabin, the passenger said. “People were coughing and choking the entire way home,” she told he ATSB.

The ATSB assessed that it was likely the inside the device that malfunctioned and started the fire, not the headphone itself. The explosion and fire was characteristic of batteries, but as of writing the ATSB has not confirmed the battery type. Authorities also have not yet released information about what type of headphones were involved in the incident.

Rechargeable -ion batteries are the cause of an increasing number of problems on passenger airplanes, in Australia and the rest of the world. Just one day before the incident, a Spring Airlines flight from Harbin, China, had to make an emergency landing in Nagoya, Japan, after a passenger’s portable battery pack exploded and started a fire in an overhead bin.

The battery pack was reportedly charging a smartphone inside the compartment when the incident occurred. Pictures of the damage show a hole burned through the sides of the bin.

Lithium-ion batteries are used to power more and more consumer devices, prompting authorities around the world to develop new safety rules, mostly aimed to prevent a lithium battery explosion in the cargo area of the airplane, which flight crew could not access.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority has seen a sharp rise in fires stemming from electronic devices in recent years. In 2011, just three such incidents were reported. In 2015, the number of onboard fires soared to 106,  Australia reported.

The U.S. and other countries have also banned some devices entirely from flights, including hoverboards and Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones.

Peter Gibson, communications manager for Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, told CNN his agency is looking into the cause of the battery fire.

“If it seems the device was damaged, then that will explain it … but you know if it was a genuine battery and hadn’t been abused then we will go to the manufacturer and see what’s going on,” he said.

Sources:
Australian Transport Safety Bureau
Flight Safety Australia
CNN