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Some bozo’s stupid battery pack forced a flight to perform an emergency landing

No, it wasn’t Kevin. He was home at the time.

virgin atlantic flight grounded due to battery bank fire
Image: Aviation Business

There were fireworks of another kind late on Thursday night when a Virgin Atlantic flight had to make an emergency landing at Boston’s Logan Airport. The cause? Someone’s battery bank burned up, filling the cabin with smoke.

Massachusetts State Police’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit did the initial sweep of the plane, as the site of the burning showed wires. On closer inspection, they found “a battery pack consistent in appearance with an external phone charger” between the cushions of the seats. As it’s an ongoing investigation, that’s all the details released to date.

There’s a good reason the FAA bans battery packs over a certain capacity

The lithium-ion batteries that power most of our modern portable devices are fickle things. They can’t handle overcharging, needing additional circuitry inside to shut off current to the cells once full. They’re also prone to manufacturing defects, like the one that caused Samsung such grief with the Note 7.

The FAA and airlines all have strict control over the capacity of the cells allowed onboard, to prevent events like this turning into disasters.

  • Heat or cold are also damaging to lithium cells, the fact this battery was found between the seat cushions might point to that as the point of failure
  • Cheap battery packs are also more dangerous, often with fake certification marks

Boston had an earlier plane make an emergency landing, with a much less spectacular issue. A cockpit light suggested a mechanical failure on an American Airlines flight from Chicago, thankfully it touched down without issue.

What do you think? Surprised by the battery fire? Should they be allowed on flights? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

Editors’ Recommendations:

Maker, meme-r and unabashed geek. Hardware guy here at KnowTechie, if it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't) I probably have one around here somewhere. My hobbies include photography, animation and hoarding Reddit gold.

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