back to article Smartmobe made 'intermittent bright flashes and a hissing noise' in Biz class seat

Perhaps more airlines could install more phone pockets on seats: two more instances have emerged of crushed smartphones putting aircraft at risk. The news comes from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is warning that passengers on flights have to take better care of their phones. Descending into London on …

  1. tempemeaty

    I wonder

    how commercial aircraft's lower than ground level cabin pressure environments affect the Li-ion batteries. I just imagine they expand a small amount. It seems to me this might make them more likely to burst open if bent.

    btw. Is it time for a "Burning Smartphone" icon to use here in the comments yet?

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      Lower pressure and or pressure changes won't cause any problems for a li-ion battery.

      Batteries don't "burst open" as such. Battery cells release a small amount of hydrogen when being charged or discharged (which is why they tell you not to leave batteries charging whilst unsupervised). When charged or discharged at a higher rate then much more hydrogen is released.

      The trend to ever thinner, lighter and more sealed/waterproof devices (exclusively achieved by cutting safety margins) means that your stripping out protections against cells in a multi cell battery touching and shorting. A short is effectively just a very high rate discharge as far as the battery is concerned

      When batteries catch fire ("venting with flame" is the technical term) you've hit a last ditch design measure to prevent an explosion. Hydrogen is being released fast enough to burn under the pressure it's venting under as it can't escape fast enough, and the explosion happens if the battery and housing is flimsy and the vents for the hydrogen is either non existent (because it's waterproof and the vents are sealed) or too small to allow the hydrogen to vent fast enough.

      The underlying technology has not advanced significantly in past years, the increase in performance is largely made from cutting safety margins from "exceedingly generous" to "razor thin". Razor thin safety margins mean that you get cut occasionally.

      Check out the MSDS for a lithium battery for more information, especially the dangers of hydrofluoric acid which is released from the battery in both smoke and residue when a cell vents with flame if your working in IT and may be required to deal with the aftermath of a battery going up. The stuff scares anybody who knows anything about it.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. cd / && rm -rf *
        Headmaster

        Re: I wonder

        "means that your stripping out protections"

        you're. A contraction of "you are".

    2. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: I wonder

      Cabins are pressurised to the equivalent of ~8000', so it's not really a big deal

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My phone gets switched off before boarding

    and does not get switched on until I'm in the terminal at the other end.

    Flying is 'me time'. Time to relax (as much as the cattle class seat will allow) and chill out.

    Fuck being connected to work all the time. If they want me to travel then I'll do it on my terms.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

      My smart device is more than a phone, allowing me to watch movies and listen to music.

      I also communicate with friends and family.

      Oh and sometimes , just somtimes, work email or call,.

      If you are so important that you are indispensable on a flight, you're probably exactly the person who should have his phone on, no?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

        @ jeremy 3

        If you are so deluded that you believe you're important and that you are stupid enough to believe you are indispensable on a flight.........

        FTFY

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

      Flying is 'me time'. Time to relax (as much as the cattle class seat will allow) and chill out.

      There's also the issue that working on company docs in an uncontrolled space would be a violation of our security policy. You have no idea how much I see during travel that really ought to be protected better.

      I too fully power down my phone during a flight, and if it's a longer flight I tend to have a small tablet or a Kindle to entertain me. That way I have phone power left on the other end.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

        but I love reading peoples private and confidential docs that they are busily reading/working on

        their laptops during the train or plane journey..sat on the seat next to me! ;-)

      2. TheProf

        Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

        'if it's a longer flight I tend to have a small tablet or a Kindle to entertain me'

        Good thing they don't have internal batteries. Ah.......

        1. Tromos

          Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

          "Good thing they don't have internal batteries. Ah......."

          And, yet, the Kindle has not acquired a reputation for living up to it's name.

          1. Erroneous Howard

            Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

            "And, yet, the Kindle has not acquired a reputation for living up to it's name"

            Especially the Kindle Fire

        2. sml156

          Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

          Erroneous Howard

          I was thinking the same thing until I remembered that a tablet or a Kindle are powered by rainbow's and unicorns witch are abundant when your head is in the clouds.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. John 110

        Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

        "...I tend to have a small tablet or a Kindle to entertain me..."

        I use a device consisting of thin flexible pages bound together in cardboard sheets. The pages have markings that are read by an organic optical reading system, and are decoded by an organic matrix that doesn't often blow up.

        1. cray74

          Re: My phone gets switched off before boarding

          I use a device consisting of thin flexible pages bound together in cardboard sheets.

          I do, too, but I found I had to dedicate a large quantity of my carry-on luggage capacity to a sufficient number of novels for journeys over 3 days in length. E-books on tablet or phone have been wonderful in such situations.

          Further, I have 14 full-height bookshelves and several half-size shelves that were full of books (133 moving boxes at an average of 20kg each - my back hasn't let me forget in four years.) At the new, smaller apartment I've again found e-books quite convenient. There'll be a day when I get a house and can convert a room into a library with permanent, dark stained wood shelving rather than flat pack particleboard crap sitting in storage.

          But until then, e-books on devices with explosive Li-ion batteries let me do what's more important to me than the books' format: read.

  3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Okay, who else thought "This message will self-destruct in 30 seconds. If you take on this mission, Jim, the minister will deny any knowledge..."

  4. Jemma Silver badge

    Personally I thought "Lithium & water.. That's another fine mess you've gotten us into".

    I think I'm right that dumping lithium in water makes for some good secondary school chemistry experiment as well as both hydrogen and oxygen gases... Possibly not the best combination in a container on a plane that's doing the thick end of 600mph at angels 35?

    You could make a handy bomb out of those two components, kind of like an up to date Von Rintelens Cigar.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is very little lithium in lithium-ion batteries. They mostly contain nickel and graphite, approx 2% is lithium so no problem dumping it in water.

      1. TheProf

        Nickel and graphite

        Well that's the answer to Samsung's image problem. They just rename their battery technology Nickel-Graphite.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Lithium does go fizz in water, but for real shits and giggles you need Sodium, or better yet Potassium.

      I suspect the TSA etcetera would take an (understandably) dim view of you having those in your handbag.

      1. waldo kitty
        Boffin

        Lithium does go fizz in water, but for real shits and giggles you need Sodium, or better yet Potassium.

        I suspect the TSA etcetera would take an (understandably) dim view of you having those in your handbag.

        so you are saying that my salt tablets and potassium pills are not allowed??

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

      +1 for history lesson

      My knowledge of WWI is significantly less than my knowledge of WWII but, today that gap is closed a bit. I was previously unaware of "Von Rintelen's cigars" and their role in history. Thank you.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: +1 for history lesson

        Fascinating. Seems t have been a very effective and somewhat unorthodox spy, in some part undermined by rivals in the German intelligence services?. Moved to England in the late 40's.

      2. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: +1 for history lesson

        Have a read of The Zimmerman Telegram - it's on Kindle, and a fine example of how gormless politicians can get - von Rintelen has a cameo appearance.

    4. Glenturret Single Malt

      The reaction of lithium with water is pretty unexciting, Things get more vigorous as you go down the Group of the Periodic Table of which lithium is at the lightest element. Sodium and potassium can be safely demonstarated in a classroom but rubidium and caesium are video-only.

  5. mark 177
    Holmes

    Some sense at last

    At least in these incidents, cabin crew did the sensible thing, involving a bucket of water.

    Not like the bunch of losers at Southwest with the Note 7 who evacuated the whole aircraft over one smouldering phone....

    http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/5/13175000/samsung-galaxy-note-7-fire-replacement-plane-battery-southwest

    1. Shez

      Re: Some sense at last

      is it really that sensible to put an electrical device in an electrically conductive container full of water?

      1. Darryl

        Re: Some sense at last

        When the battery's on fire, I doubt there's much electricity flowing out of it

      2. sml156

        Re: Some sense at last

        Shez

        Probably better than doing nothing

  6. GreggS

    QANTAS

    It seems that your average QANTAS flyer is the culprit here as the majority of the incidents have happened with them. Perhaps they should change their pre-flight briefing and have passengers fasten their phones to their forehead with velcro.

    Of course, if they do lose the phone, it's obvious where it will be - down under.

    1. Missing Semicolon
      Angel

      Re: QANTAS

      Maybe Quantas' seats have particularly phone-shaped crannies in them that get smaller when the seat is adjusted?

    2. sorry, what?
      Devil

      "Danger Will Robinson"... or "Lost in Space (below your seat)"...

      Qantas are not the only airline already warning people not to try to retrieve their own device - BA are saying this too.

      I wonder if the cabin crews have had special ninja training in order to help them move stealthily in the small spaces below the seats in order to find these AWOL items?!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    QANTAS is already warning passengers not to look for phones if they lose them

    first they came for me fone, and I said nothing, koz I'm not a fone...

  8. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    And all because

    The phone manufacturers have this obsession with making phones thinner all the time.

    When most of the people I know get a new phone, almost the first thing they do is buy a case or a shell for it, to protect it from being scratched or dropped. That should be a pretty clear indication that for most people phone thickness isn't a problem. Weight, maybe, but an extra mm or two won't matter.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: And all because

      What is this obsession with thinner phones?

    2. Erroneous Howard

      Re: And all because

      But people would still buy a case or shell to protect the phone if it was thicker to begin with, so when does it become "too thick" for people (once you add said case/shell)?

      I imagine it's as simple as "thinner phones sell better" but it's not like I've looked into any sales trends so it's just an assumption that people find bricks a bit unsexy.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: And all because

        "I imagine it's as simple as "thinner phones sell better" but it's not like I've looked into any sales trends so it's just an assumption that people find bricks a bit unsexy."

        I suspect once they reached 5-6mm thick that thinner was more an artificially created demand invented by the marketeers.

  9. CraPo

    QANTAS is already warning passengers not to look for phones if they lose them

    BA does it too

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: QANTAS is already warning passengers not to look for phones if they lose them

      In cattle class not enough room to move to look for a lost phone, last time I dropped anything in middle seat (passport) had to wait until disembarking and people next to me moving before I could get it (& I'm not of hefty build just packed like sardines)

  10. TWB

    Easyjet warning

    On a recent Easyjet flight - which got delayed by an hour - we finally belted up, pushed back and taxied towards the runway. On our way there, the crew read out that it was not allowed to bring a Samsung 7 on board - as we were all belted up and about to take off it seemed a rather daft time to mention it - if I had had one I certainly would have kept quiet.

    Maybe this is normal - I don't fly much....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give them somewhere safe to put it.

    Sure you can have your phone on the plane but it must be in this 2"x6"x8" case.

    Now try loosing that bugger down the gap.

  12. Down not across Silver badge

    Seat design

    Given the increasing number of reports of phones getting chewed up by aircraft seats, you can't help but wonder if the seat design could be improved so that it would be more difficult for phones to end up in the wrong place and get ground to bits.

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