Just days after the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) issued a strong warning about the risk of unstoppable fires from lithium battery shipments, an Alaska Airlines passenger flight from Newark to Seattle made an emergency landing in Buffalo after a credit card reader, used as the point-of-sale for onboard purchases of food and beverages, began to smoke in the cabin of the aircraft. The card reader, which was powered by a lithium-ion battery, was a new device recently introduced on Alaska aircraft.
A statement released by the airline after the Oct. 12 incident said, “while there were no flames at any point during the flight, the flight crew did use a fire extinguisher to stop the device from smoking while the captain made arrangements for an emergency landing in Buffalo, New York.” Alaska Airlines has now removed all of its electronic credit card reading machines from its fleet for inspection as a result of the incident, according to Buffalo’s WKBW.
The FAA has been warning carriers about the possible danger from lithium-ion batteries, a number of which have over-heated and created fires on board airplanes, primarily in the cargo compartments. These incidents have prompted the FAA to back a proposed international ban of the batteries as cargo on all passenger airlines entering or leaving the U.S.
There were no injuries to the 181 passengers and six crew members aboard Flight 17, a 737-900ER.
For more on this increasingly controversial topic, look for a full breakdown on battery transport in the November issue of Air Cargo World, which will be posted online after Nov. 1.
Get more air cargo insights at the 2015 Cargo Facts Symposium, Oct. 26-28 in Miami. Click here for details.