A woman who was traveling to Melbourne received burns to her face after the pair of battery-operated headphones she was wearing exploded mid-flight. The woman was sleeping two hours into her flight from Beijing to Australia when she heard a loud explosion. “As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she said. “I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck. I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire. As I went to stamp my foot on them the flight attendants were already there with a bucket of water to pour on them. They put them into the bucket at the rear of the plane.” The headphones belonged to the female passenger. Pictures show the passenger with black soot all over her cheeks, mouth and nose. Her hand was also burned and has now blistered and her hair and eyebrows were singed. The battery and its cover melted to the airplane floor.
From the Sydney Morning Herald
For the remainder of the flight, passengers endured the smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics and burnt hair. “People were coughing and choking the entire way home,” the passenger said. A spokesman for the ATSB declined to reveal the brand of the headphones, saying all batteries are potentially risky. “The ATSB has assessed that it is the batteries, as the power source, that caught on fire and are therefore the issue… All batteries contain stored energy and are therefore potentially risky.” In its safety warning, the ATSB said the potential for in-flight issues is increasing as the range of products using batteries grows. Battery-powered devices should be stowed when not in use and spare batteries must be kept in carry-on baggage, not checked baggage, the warning said.
Photo Credit: Australian Transport Safety Bureau via the Sydney Morning Herald