A BRITISH Airways flight was plunged into a mid-air emergency after a passenger’s mobile phone burst into flames – sparking a “tornado” of smoke.
Flight attendants rushed to extinguish the blaze during an overnight flight from Miami to Heathrow.
A shocking picture shows the red iPhone completely destroyed by the blaze and the back cover completely singed off – leaving the inside of the device exposed.
The passenger had been asleep on her flat-bed seat on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet, which was just 40 minutes from landing.
She was woken by a flight crew announcement and moved her seat upright from its flat-bed position – without realising her iPhone had slipped down the side while being charged.
'TORNADO OF SMOKE'
The passenger went to the bathroom and noticed a “strong odour” on her return when she began to stow away her bedding at the request of a flight attendant.
She then alerted a senior cabin crew member as the smell which she likened to “sulphur” began getting stronger.
A report into the incident by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said: “At this point they heard a ‘hissing’ sound and a large plume of grey smoke emitted from the seat in a ‘tornado’ motion.
“They remembered seeing an orange glow in the seat area amongst the smoke.”
Flight attendants pulled back the seat padding which exposed the trapped phone and tackled the blaze with “several bursts” from a fire extinguisher, before turning off the power to the seat.
Other crew members rushed to fill an ice bucket with water and contacted the pilots who had also “smelt an acrid odour on the flight deck”.
Once the smoke cleared, the cabin crew were able to clearly see the phone trapped in the seat mechanism – but it was jammed and they could not move it.
One cabin crew member stayed by the seat with a fire extinguisher as a precaution until the plane landed twenty minutes later at 8am on October 1 last year.
Firefighters later boarded the plane and Heathrow and removed the phone.
The report said that the Civil Aviation Authority had received 166 previous reports of electronic devices becoming trapped in seats in the past five years – and 42 had resulted in a fire or smoke in the cabin.
Aircraft seats do not have to be designed to prevent phones and other devices from being trapped or crushed – but manufacturers have been attempting to design seats to reduce the risk.
A British Airways spokesperson said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do, and our highly trained cabin crew worked quickly and safely to resolve the situation.”
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