Smoking iPhone on flight prompts warning

A smoking iPhone on a Regional Express flight has prompted aviation safety authorities to warn travellers about using non-authorised agents to repair mobile devices.

A passenger's iPhone began smoking after the Rex flight landed at Sydney Airport from Lismore on November 25 last year, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau report released today said.

A cabin crew member noticed the smoke coming from a passenger's seat and told the passenger to throw the source of the smoke into the aisle. The cabin crew member then used a fire extinguisher on the phone.

The phone was then sent by the ATSB to the US for technical examinations, which found a small metal screw had been misplaced in the battery bay. The misplaced screw punctured the battery casing and caused an internal short circuit causing the battery to overheat and smoke.

The examination found that an "unauthorised repair facility" had failed to exercise appropriate quality control on the iPhone during repair.

The report said the incident reinforces the importance of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's recommendations that devices with lithium batteries be carried on board by passengers and not placed in checked baggage.

According to the ATSB report, this is the first time a mobile electronic device has self-ignited on an aircraft in Australia. There have, however, been other reported cases of iPhones self-igniting around the world.