Woman receives facial burns after her headphones explode mid-flight

A woman’s headphones exploded mid-flight after her battery-operated headphones caught fire during a flight from Beijing to Melbourne last month, officials said on Wednesday.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) disclosed that the passenger was listening to music on her own battery-operated headphones when the explosion took place on the flight on February 19.

The woman had been sleeping on the plane when she heard a loud explosion about two hours into the flight.

“As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she told the ATSB which investigated the incident.

“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,” continued the woman.

The battery and cover were both melted and stuck to the floor of the aircraft.

The incident left the woman with a blackened face and neck and blisters on her hands. The smoke and the smell of melted plastic, burnt hair and electronics filled the cabin for the rest of the journey to Melbourne.

“People were coughing and choking the entire way home,” the woman added.

The transport safety bureau, which did not identify which airline was involved, assessed that the batteries in the device likely caught on fire.

Battery powered devices especially ones using Lithium-ion batteries are prone to overheating and exploding into flames for various reasons. Since, many of the battery operated devices use Li-ion batteries certain precautions needs to be taken to ensure your safety.

“As the range of products using batteries grows, the potential for in-flight issues increases,” the ATSB said. It reminded travellers that they should keep the battery-powered devices in stowage unless in use. Spare batteries/power banks must be in your carry-on baggage, and not checked baggage.

The ATSB says the incident wasn’t deemed investigable and hence, there is no follow-up with the manufacturer.

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