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iPhone 4 battery combusts on Aussie flight


Well, this is awkward. Just over a month after I locked horns with Australia Post and called its restrictions on shipping electronic devices with integrated lithium batteries "arbitrary and idiotic," because "Millions of travelers fly with iPhones every year. NONE of them explode," guess what happened? No really, go on, guess.

Yes, an iPhone 4 had its battery spontaneously combust in mid-flight, and if that wasn't ironic enough by itself, it also happened on a flight over Australia. The device started emitting smoke and a red glow, but quick reactions from flight attendants extinguished the burgeoning bonfire before it could cause any further harm to passengers or the flight itself.

The device has been handed over to Australian Transport Safety Bureau for analysis, but it's pretty obvious what happened based on the picture alone: the battery got compromised somehow and went foom.

Something like this was bound to happen eventually, with millions of iPhones flying through the air every month, but did it really have to happen on an Australian flight just a month after I publicly chastised AU Post for shipping policies so restrictive it made it all but impossible for me to import an iPhone from there?

Curses! You win this round, Australia Post.

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Regional Express (Rex) flight ZL319 operating from Lismore to Sydney today had an occurrence after landing, when a passenger's mobile phone started emitting a significant amount of dense smoke, accompanied by a red glow.

In accordance with company standard safety procedures, the Flight Attendant carried out recovery actions immediately and the red glow was extinguished successfully.

All passengers and crew on board were unharmed.

The matter has been reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) as well as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for investigation and directions.

The mobile phone in question appears to be an Apple iPhone (see picture below) and has been handed over to ATSB for analysis.
In this article: Australia, battery, fire, iPhone

Chris Rawson has been using Apple's products on and off since 1982. He was a mostly a Windows user during Apple's "wilderness years" in the mid- to late-90s, but he came back to the Mac in 2003.

From 1995 to 1999, Chris served in the US Navy as a nuclear-rated electrician's mate and performed maintenance duties on an aircraft carrier's twin nuclear power plants. After leaving the Navy, he spent two years working as a Radiation Health Physics Technician in the private sector until a contamination accident convinced him to pursue a different career. He was thoroughly disappointed when the accidental radiation exposure failed to give him any superpowers whatsoever.

From 2007 to 2008, Chris worked as an editor for PR Newswire in Cleveland. While at PR Newswire, he gained inside knowledge of the workings of the US media and an amazing repertoire of anti-Cleveland jokes.

Chris moved to New Zealand in 2008. He is a summa cum laude graduate of Kent State University and has earned a Master of Arts in English from Massey University with upper second-class honours.