Two Lufthansa flight attendants had to see a doctor due to smoke poisoning after they rushed to extinguish a “small fire” on board a flight from Los Angeles caused by a passenger’s laptop catching fire.
Lufthansa flight LH457 took off from Los Angeles International Airport at 15:26 and headed for Frankfurt, but was forced to make an emergency landing in Chicago about five hours after takeoff.
Returning from conservation, the Boeing 747-8 deviated from its usual route and headed towards Chicago, where it was first “asked” to dump fuel, and then finally allowed to land.
A Lufthansa spokesman said the pilots made an unscheduled stop at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport as a “precautionary measure,” that is, after the fire was extinguished.
“The safety on board was not compromised for a second,” the airline said. “None of the passengers on board were injured, but two flight attendants were treated on the spot due to smoke inhalation.”
“Lufthansa ground staff is currently assisting passengers and they will be transferred to other flights. Lufthansa regrets the inconvenience caused to passengers. The safety of passengers and crews is always of paramount importance,” the carrier said in a statement.
The incident occurred just days after a JetBlue flight from Barbados was evacuated in a parking lot at New York’s Kennedy Airport. The passenger’s laptop overheated and began to smoke just at the moment when the Airbus A320 drove up to the teletrap.
Seven passengers suffered minor injuries during this incident on Christmas Eve after emergency slides were used to evacuate. None of the 133 passengers on board were seriously injured.
Portable computers are powered by lithium batteries, which are prone to overheating. This is the potential cause of the fire.
Thermal acceleration is a chain reaction in which the temperature inside the battery rises very quickly, reaching 2,000 degrees. The battery at the same time emits a lot of smoke, sparks and fire. At this point, the battery is very difficult to extinguish.
Cheap power cords are sometimes blamed for a laptop battery fire, but sudden accidental damage is also a major risk factor. Airlines report an increase in cases of ignition of lithium batteries caused by the fact that electronic devices of passengers get stuck in the mechanisms of the seats.