Battery-powered headphone explodes mid-flight, Aussie authorities issue safety warning

By on March 15, 2017


The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a warning for travelers using battery-powered headphones, after a woman was severely burnt when a battery exploded on a recent flight from Beijing to Melbourne. (Photo: Sean MacEntee/Flickr)
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a warning for travelers using battery-powered headphones, after a woman was severely burnt when a battery exploded on a recent flight from Beijing to Melbourne. (Photo: Sean MacEntee/Flickr)

CANBERRA—The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has issued a warning for travelers using battery-powered headphones, after a woman was severely burnt when a battery exploded on a recent flight from Beijing to Melbourne.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the ATSB said officials had spoken to the woman, who was listening to music at the time of the explosion.

“On a recent flight from Beijing to Melbourne, a passenger was listening to music using a pair of her own battery-operated headphones,” the ATSB said.

“About two hours into the flight while sleeping, the passenger heard a loud explosion.”

The woman told the ATSB that she suffered burns and boils from the incident, but praised the aircraft’s crew for the quick thinking.

“As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” the unnamed woman said, “I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck.

“I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire.

“As I went to stamp my foot on them the flight attendants were already there with a bucket of water to pour on them. They put them into the bucket at the rear of the plane.”

The ATSB reminded passengers using battery-powered devices that “devices should be kept in an approved stowage, unless in use.”

“Spare batteries must be in your carry-on baggage NOT checked baggage,” said the ATSB statement.

“(Passengers) should locate their devices before moving powered seats (and) if a passenger cannot locate their device, they should refrain from moving their seat and immediately contact a cabin crew member.”

News of the headphone explosion comes after cellphone maker Samsung was forced to recall a number of its Galaxy Note phones because they were also found to explode. Many airlines have since banned the faulty phones from being brought on board.