Qantas says it is looking into a new seat design after a personal entertainment device caught fire onboard a flight to New York, forcing flight attendants to douse the blaze with fire extinguishers.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released a report into the incident, which happened when a business class passenger’s PED became trapped in the seat mechanism.
According to the report, the passenger lost the PED, which contained a lithium type battery, and later moved the seat in an attempt to find it when it became trapped.
“The crushed PED immediately began hissing and emitting smoke. Moments later, the PED ignited,” the report found.
A number of cabin crewmembers onboard the Boeing-747 came rushing to the scene with fire extinguishers, observing “an orange glow” from the passenger’s seat.
The incident happened with just 40 minutes left on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to New York on June 21.
Since the incident, Qantas enhanced its safety briefing and now states: “If you lose your electronic devices at any time, it’s important you don’t move your seat as this could severely damage your device and may be a fire hazard. Please contact a crew member who will be able to recover your device”.
“As a result of this occurrence, the aircraft operator has advised the ATSB that the seat manufacturer is developing design solutions to prevent ingress of PEDs into the seat structure,” the ATSB report said.
The report praised the efforts of the Qantas crew who “quickly implemented the basic fire drill procedure”.
“As a result, the incident was quickly and effectively contained. The effective implementation of this procedure also ensured the flight crew were kept informed as the situation developed.”