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Report says: Undeclared Passenger Batteries Grounded Fiji Airways flight

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released its report into a lithium battery fire that ignited in the cargo hold of Fiji Airways’ Boeing 737 moments before passengers boarded a
12 Sep 2014 10:09
Report says: Undeclared Passenger Batteries Grounded Fiji Airways flight

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released its report into a lithium battery fire that ignited in the cargo hold of Fiji Airways’ Boeing 737 moments before passengers boarded a flight from Melbourne to Fiji.

As the captain of the flight was conducting an external inspection of the aircraft, a ground engineer alerted him to white smoke coming from the cargo hold.

The captain instructed the first officer, who was in the cockpit doing pre-flight checks, to activate the fire suppression system, evacuate the aircraft and declare Mayday.

As Flight Safety Australia reported in June, the fire was confined to one case, which contained more than eight lithium batteries.

The fire is believed to have ignited when one of the batteries short-circuited as the case was being loaded onto the aircraft.

Revealingly, the ATSB report said the ‘passenger stated during check-in that there were no batteries in the checked bags, but declared eight lithium batteries being carried as hand luggage’.

After the fire, the passenger, who was a certified remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) operator in Australia, was located and asked whether there were any batteries in his checked luggage. The passenger replied there were none.

Further inspection of the passenger’s checked luggage by the Australian Federal Police revealed ‘19 batteries intact and additional 6-8 batteries that had been destroyed by fire’.

As a result of the incident, Fiji Airways now asks every passenger whether their baggage contains lithium batteries.

The airline also says any passenger carrying undeclared lithium batteries that are discovered before departure will be offloaded and refused carriage.

 

 



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