How a Lost Cell Phone Can Be Dangerous in Flight

The FAA is considering banning the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from flights over safety concerns, but did you know any smart phone could potentially pose a danger inflight?

mobile phone cell phone

Due to the issues surrounding the Samsung Galaxy note 7’s battery, the FAA is trying to decide whether or not they should ban it in flight.

From the Tech Times:

If the regulator and commercial airlines decide to label the Galaxy Note 7 as a hazardous product, passengers will be prohibited from carrying one on board of upcoming flights.

“The FAA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are working on guidance related to this issue,” the FAA explains.

The authority goes on to add that if the manufacturer recalls the device, neither passengers, nor airline crew will be permitted to take “recalled batteries or electronics that contain recalled batteries in the cabin of an aircraft.” What is more, such devices will be banned from checked and carry-on baggage, as well.

– See more at:

The reason for this particular ban actually kind of make sense…

But did you know that under the right circumstances, ordinary smart phones have also posed a danger in the air?

I don’t mean through usual usage.  But if your phone is lost in flight, it is probably best not to change the position of your seat until you find it again.

From the Telegraph:

The strange announcement, which was witnessed by a reporter from online technology website The Register, was issued in response to the fire risk that lithium-ion batteries – which are used to power mobile phones – pose if they are damaged by the moving mechanisms in reclining seats. Since then, similar announcements have been witnessed on British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

But why the sudden warning? In May, on a flight from Sydney to Dallas-Fort Worth, Qantas cabin crew were alerted to the “presence of smoke in the cabinâ€. The Australian Transit Safety Bureau (ATSB), which has recently released its investigation into the incident, notes that the source of the smoke was traced to seat 19F, in business class – to “a crushed personal electronic device [a phone] wedged tightly in the seat mechanismâ€.

And then from further down in the article:

When pressure is applied to a lithium-ion battery, it is susceptible to short-circuiting. This causes the battery to overheat – and, in some circumstances, start smoking or combust.

Believe it or not, dozens of airplane fires have been linked to this in the last two years.

And I could see how losing your phone this way could be really easy.  I put mine down during food service the other day and it slipped into the seat.  It was plugged into the outlet, so I was able to easily pull it out via its charging cable, but I could see how they could easily fall into the mechanical part of the chair.

The article has a picture of one of the smashed/post-fire phones here.

Makes me pretty happy I could easily retrieve my phone.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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