Austrian A321 near Cairo on Sep 3rd 2014, brand new iPad overheated

Last Update: July 11, 2017 / 13:11:07 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Sep 3, 2014

Classification
Report

Flight number
OS-863

Destination
Cairo, Egypt

Aircraft Registration
OE-LBB

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator
A321

An Austrian Airlines Airbus A321-200, registration OE-LBB performing flight OS-863 from Vienna (Austria) to Cairo (Egypt) with 100 passengers and 6 crew, was descending towards Cairo when a passenger noticed his brand new tablet emitted dense smoke. He took the tablet to the forward galley, where cabin crew used three halon fire extinguishers to extinguish the fire and stop the smoke. The remains of the ipad were subsequently cooled. The aircraft continued for a safe landing.

Austria's Sicherheitsuntersuchungsstelle des Bundes (SUB, former VERSA) released their final report in German concluding the probable cause of the serious incident was:

Based on the external visual examination the serious incicdent has very likely been caused by overheating of the Lithium battery of the tablet. The cause of the chemical reactions in the inner of the battery could not be clearly determined because the inner of the device did not undergo a detailed examination.

The SUB reported the passenger provided testimony that the iPad Air 128GB was brandnew, it was still in the original packaging by Apple and not yet been take to any use, the battery had neither been charged or discharged yet.

The SUB reported the Lithium Polymer battery has a capacity of 27.3Wh at 3.76V. Permitted temperatures were 0-35 degrees C, 5-95% humidity and altitudes up to 3000 meters.

An examination of the package after landing revealed that the USB charging cable was not present. The plastics packaging was partially molten as result of heat and had merged with the back of the device. The power supply in the package showed only limited traces of heat impact, while it appeared possible that the heat originated inside the iPad.

The SUB analysed that an external damage could not be found upon examination of the device, however, due to the thermal runaway the device had suffered severe damage. The damage seen permits the conclusion that the thermal event started inside the device and developed into the outside of the device. According to the testimony by the passenger, that the device had not yet been used, an overcharge or failed charge of the battery can be ruled out. A thermal runaway of the Lithium Polymer battery can be caused by short circuit, overcharge, failed charge or rapid discharge. The overheating is the result of chemical reactions inside the battery.

It could not be established whether there had been an internal short circuit causing a rapid discharge of the battery.

The use of Halon extinguishers first to extinguish flames and stop smoke followed by cooling down with water was appropriate.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Sep 3, 2014

Classification
Report

Flight number
OS-863

Destination
Cairo, Egypt

Aircraft Registration
OE-LBB

Aircraft Type
Airbus A321

ICAO Type Designator
A321

This article is published under license from Avherald.com. © of text by Avherald.com.
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