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.
MOBILE PHONE SELF COMBUSTION
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.