Smoking Laptop Leads To Emergency Landing

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A JetBlue Airways Airbus 320 made an emergency landing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Tuesday after a laptop computer stored in an overhead began emitting smoke. The flight landed safely with no injuries.

Passengers told news outlets that the incident caused significant smoke in the cabin, although none reported signs of flames. The flight was enroute from New York's JFK to San Francisco when it diverted to Grand Rapids. After the aircraft was inspected, passengers continued on to San Francisco.

The incident adds to a list of battery smoke or fire incidents on aircraft, according to the FAA. As of this week, 160 incidents involving smoke or fire with lithium batteries have been reported since 1991. These have involved computers, e-cigarettes, power tools and chargers. The FAA says its list doesn't necessarily cover all the incidents that have been reported or have occurred.  

The JetBlue incident comes as the U.S. is discussing banning laptops entirely from the cabins of U.S.-bound flight originating in Europe. Computers are already banned from 50 named cities, most of them in Africa or the Middle East.

Comments (6)

"the U.S. is discussing banning laptops entirely from the cabins of U.S.-bound flight originating in Europe. Computers are already banned from 50 named cities, most of them in Africa or the Middle East."

Yes but that's not because of battery concerns.. it's not relative to this story at all.

Posted by: Ken Keen | May 31, 2017 10:42 PM    Report this comment

"commuter stored in an overhead"

I knew that was coming eventually. Talk about no frills!

Posted by: Nathan Vonada | June 1, 2017 7:41 AM    Report this comment

"Yes but that's not because of battery concerns.. it's not relative to this story at all"

Actually I think it's very relevant. If this laptop had been in the baggage hold the fire would have likely gone undetected for much longer, possibly to the point where it got out of control. Regulators have to balance the risk of a terrorist trying to detonate a laptop in the cabin with he risk of a laptop induced fire in the baggage hold. This incident proves the risk of fire is real so it needs to be considered when making policy. Banning laptops in the cabin could actually increase the risk of losing an airliner full of people. That's why the two storylines are relevant and connected to each other.

Posted by: Scott Dickey | June 1, 2017 9:36 AM    Report this comment

I don't see the point to put laptops in the cargo compartment. If there are explosives stacked in the laptop, you don't have to be close to the laptop. Everybody forgot remote detonation? For example via a smartphone?

And don't forget Lockerbie, that was a radio stacked in the cargo compartment.

Anyhow, the biggest thread is fire due to the battery instead of explosives.

Posted by: Olav van Hees | June 2, 2017 1:43 AM    Report this comment

Does anyone know why the lithium batteries burn? If you take a cell and open it up and put a match to it - what happens? Nothing! So what burns? If the BMS inside has over charged or a devise is over discharged - the solid oxygen in the matrix will turn to gas. This gas can cause the cell to puff up. Oxygen can burn very fast seemingly exploding or bursting into flames. When the O2 is used up - the fire goes out.
A cargo area can use Halo gas to dispel any O2 which fuels a fire but that also is risky to use on a plane.
What is the most sensible solution? Common sense. Passengers like to get that full charge before getting on the plane so they can get the maximum usage out of their devices. So just STOP IT!

Posted by: Don Lineback | June 2, 2017 8:42 AM    Report this comment

The amount of chemical energy stored in these new type of batteries is huge. That's why your laptop or phone lasts the time it does. When a battery is damaged of defective, a short circuit will cause the chemical energy to react and self-support an overheat/fire. Lack of oxygen will not stop the fire because the chemical reaction sustains itself. It must be severely cooled in order to stop the event. Putting these devises in an aircraft cargo hold it a huge rust because these holds cannot suppress such a fire. There are better and smarter ways to detect/filter a rigged laptop by criminals/terrorists than just putting them into the cargo...the authorities should wake up to that fact and take appropriate action instead of bungling along with a ban that does not improve safety.

Posted by: Mauro Hernandez | June 3, 2017 12:42 PM    Report this comment

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