How do lithium batteries catch fire?

Leaders at JetBlue airlines are issuing a statement after one of their planes was diverted to Ford Airport.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Leaders at Jet Blue airlines are issuing a statement after one of their planes was diverted Tuesday to Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

A lithium battery began smoldering in a passenger's bag, prompting the cross-country flight to land here in the Midwest.

JetBlue officials released a statement saying crew members did the right thing. Having said that, it still made us wonder: how does something just suddenly catch fire? 

Thousands of miles in the air is not where you want to be when something catches fire. 

"It was a little chaotic in here but we're OK," when JetBlue passenger told WZZM 13 over the phone Tuesday night. 

More than 150 passengers had a similar experience Tuesday, May 30. An Incident report obtained using the Freedom of Information Act shows a pilot reported a laptop lithium battery which was on a charger, not plugged in, began to smolder inside a backpack. Flight attendants immediately put the bag in a trash can in the plane bathroom, where the battery stopped overheating.

Ford Airport officials say the smoke came from a lithium battery but it was not confirmed as coming from a laptop.

"Our firefighters went through the cabin and made sure everyone was OK and then the plane departed a couple hours later to San Francisco," airport spokeswoman Tara Hernandez said. 

"Lithium is a very, very reactive metal," said Chris Boden, founder of the Geek Group. "If you overcharge them, they want to light on fire. If you undercharge them, they want to light on fire.

"If you let them sit on a shelf for a long time, they want to light on fire."

Boden says any kind of moisture or damage to a battery can cause a catastrophe.

"There's a lot of energy in a very tiny space and you have to treat it responsibly," he said.

Though Tuesday's incident did not create a blaze it did make for an emergency landing.

JetBlue released a statement on the incident saying:

"On May 30 JetBlue flight 915 from New York’s JFK to San Francisco diverted to Grand Rapids, Mich., following reports of smoke emitting from a carry-on bag holding a battery. Crewmembers took actions consistent with their training to make sure the situation was contained. The flight landed safely and the aircraft was inspected before customers continued on to San Francisco. The FAA is conducting a full investigation into the incident."

►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.

 

Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

© 2017 WZZM-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment