NYT: “As More Devices Board Planes, Travelers Are Playing With Fire”

When I was reading the New York Times yesterday, I came across this interesting piece that dealt with lithium-ion batteries and risk they pose to air travel.

NYT Fire

Samsung is currently recalling some of its Galaxy 7 phones that have exploding/melting batteries that could cause serious harm inside an airplane.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times (access the piece here).

Qantas, one of the Australian carriers, had an onboard fire during a trans-Pacific flight this year when a passenger’s cellphone was crushed in the mechanism of a business-class seat and the phone’s lithium-ion battery ignited.

In January as a Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta arrived at the gate, crew members discovered that a carry-on bag containing two laptop computers had burst into flames, according to the F.A.A. The smoke prompted some passengers to use the emergency exits and wait on the wings until help arrived.

Battery fires were considered a contributing factor in the crashes of three cargo planes in the last 10 years: an Asiana 747 in 2011, a UPS 747 in Dubai in 2010 and a UPS DC-8 in Philadelphia in 2006.

Conclusion

Business class seats have more than once eaten my cell phone but the flight attendants and or mechanics have always been able to retrieve them. I wrote about my most recent experience here.

I believe that this is pure numbers. Eventually some of these batteries will ignite/catch fire/blew up in a way that will cause serious harm to an airplane (besides these three cargo ones that went down in flames).

Let’s hope that engineers will come up with a better method of storing electricity that would be safer than these lithium-ion batteries.

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