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Power Bank Explodes on AirAsia Flight in Thailand, Causing Fear Among Passengers

Power Bank Explodes on AirAsia Flight in Thailand, Causing Fear Among Passengers

BY HADI AHMAD Published on February 27, 2024 1 COMMENTS

Chaos ensued on a Thai AirAsia flight after a passenger's power bank exploded and caught fire, prompting the crew to extinguish it swiftly.


The aircraft involved in the incident, with registration HS-ABX | Photo: Flickr


Power Bank Fire


Thai AirAsia's flight FD 3188 is a daily domestic service between Bangkok's Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) and Nakhon Si Thammarat (NST) in southern Thailand. On February 24, the flight departed Don Mueang on time for its regularly scheduled one-hour flight. The aircraft operating was an Airbus A320-200 registered HS-ABX with 186 passengers onboard.


About 30 minutes after the flight from Don Mueang took off, smoke emanated from row 15. It was soon discovered that this smoke was coming from a portable power bank that had suddenly ignited. The smoke caused the flight attendants to promptly grab one of the onboard fire extinguishers and put an end to the sudden fire.




Despite the chaos that ensued onboard, the crew extinguished the fire within two minutes. FD 3188 continued on its flight to Nakhon Si Thammarat and landed safely. The aircraft was not taken out of service and returned to Bangkok Don Mueang normally.


An initial investigation revealed burn marks on the seats. This is because once the power bank caught fire, it was stowed in the seatback pocket. It was later revealed that the power bank belonged to a family of seven or eight people traveling to Nakhon Si Thammarat for vacation.


Photo: Arthur Chow | AeroXplorer


Power Banks on Flights


Power banks are used as portable chargers for those unable to access a physical power outlet to charge their mobile devices. Most ultra-low-cost airlines do not offer in-seat power or USB onboard their aircraft. Hence, passengers tend to bring portable power banks onboard to ensure that their devices stay charged. This can be said for any passenger traveling on any airline.




Thai AirAsia warns passengers to check their spare batteries or power banks, ensuring they meet the required quality specifications. Airlines prohibit portable batteries or power banks from being stored in checked luggage. Aviation authorities such as the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) in the U.S. also set the same rules.


In the unlikely event of such devices catching fire, no one would be able to tell and quickly extinguish it due to the fire occurring in the cargo hold. However, it is worth noting that aircraft cargo holds are very air-tight, limiting the available oxygen that could start a fire if something like a power bank suddenly catches fire.


Photo: Ryan Wang | AeroXplorer


But even though the cargo hold is secure, aviation regulators continue to stress the importance of storing power banks or lithium batteries in carry-on luggage. This is to prevent the risk of any fire in the cargo hold. This rule also ends up being for the passenger's benefit. Storing extra batteries or power banks in carry-on luggage is the best way to go for ease of access.


Therefore, if passengers happen to be flying aboard a low-cost airline on a longer flight and desperately need to charge their devices, the spare power bank is easy to access.



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Hadi Ahmad
Lifelong aviation enthusiast raised in Central Illinois. 777 is the best plane BTW.

Comments (1)

Andrew Hirst Sadly some airlines still don't have lithium battery fire mitigation bags on board which enhance in-flight safety and save the need for costly diversions and emergency landings. World's best selling is AvSax which is on 17,000 aircraft operated by 100 airlines worldwide. More at www.avsax.com
43d ago • Reply

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