Forbes is reporting that lithium battery fires on airliners are happening at a rate greater than one per week. The magazine reviewed FAA data and found that at least 62 battery incidents happened in 2022, up from 54 the previous year and seven times the nine reports in 2014. The FAA says that’s how many they know of and there could be more. So far, the results of fires in devices and the portable power packs that many people carry to recharge them have been relatively minor most of the time but not always.
All airliners are equipped with “thermal containment bags” and cabin crews are trained to handle the overheating devices. But sometimes it takes a while for the fire to be noticed and the consequences can be more serious. Forbes said 10 passengers and crew on a Spirit Airlines flight were taken to a Jacksonville hospital after the flight diverted there. A battery pack overheated in a bag in the overhead bin and the cabin filled with smoke. “The pilot got us out of the air really fast … but it was quite frightening for a little while until we knew we were on the ground and safe,” passenger Kerri Arakawa told Tampa-bay NBC affiliate WTLV.