An e-cigarette explosion caused a fire aboard an American Airlines flight last week, causing a stir among the passengers and crew but no injuries.
Fortunately, American Airlines Flight 168 had just landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport when the e-cigarette burst into flames Friday, Jan. 4, about 9 p.m.
Flight attendants aboard the flight, which originated in Las Vegas, stamped out the fire. None of the 138 passengers and six crew were injured and the plane taxied to the gate after the fire was extinguished.
“Our crews are trained on fighting high energy battery fires,” American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times “As part of safety management and risk mitigation, we always evaluate additional ways to enhance existing procedures to ensure cabin safety.”
American Airlines reported the fire to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The agency tracks e-cigarette fires and other lithium-ion battery-related incidents affecting flights and uses the data to inform safety rules and policies.
Almost all consumer electronics are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which can catch fire or explode if they are damaged or their exposed terminals are short-circuited by other items. The FAA advises air travelers to pack any devices containing lithium-ion batteries in carry-on bags. If the devices are packed in checked luggage, they must be completely powered off.
However, the FAA prohibits passengers from packing spare lithium-ion batteries, e-cigarettes, and similar electronic devices in checked baggage. These items must be carried with the passenger in carry-on baggage in the cabin. Smoke and fire incidents involving e-cigarettes and lithium-ion batteries can be mitigated by the cabin crew and passengers inside the aircraft cabin, but fires or explosions that occur in the airplane’s cargo hold cannot be accessed.