Alert cabin crew members aboard SriLankan Airlines’ flight UL 166 managed to avert a major incident that is believed to have been caused by the ignition of a lithium battery pack of a mobile phone in a passenger’s hand luggage.
The incident occurred on the flight which was en route to Colombo from Kochi.
Shortly after the meal service on the 70-minute flight was concluded, alert cabin crew members in the rear area of the aircraft noticed smoke appearing from an overhead luggage bin.
The cabin manager and the captain were immediately informed. The aft cabin crew members rapidly armed themselves with fire extinguishers and opened the bin. Upon finding a bag emitting smoke, they sprayed it with an extinguisher.
The crew then removed the bag from the overhead bin and carried it away from the passengers to the rear galley, at which time it began to emit smoke once again at a faster rate. Suspecting a lithium fire, they adopted the lithium fire extinguishing procedure by immersing the bag in a container of water. The situation was successfully contained and the bag ceased to emit smoke. Upon investigation, the crew found a lithium battery pack and two mobile phones in the bag.
The flight crew immediately informed air traffic controllers at BIA and the aircraft was met on arrival by dangerous goods experts, firefighters and other safety related personnel. Since the situation was under control, passengers did not require emergency evacuation and disembarked in the usual manner.
SriLankan Airlines has launched an investigation into the incident, as have the relevant authorities in Sri Lanka. (Colombo Gazette)