Colombo, July 31, 2017: Alert cabin crew members aboard SriLankan Airlines’ flight UL 166 managed to avert a major incident that is believed to have been caused by the ignition of a lithium battery pack or mobile phones in a passenger’s hand luggage. The incident reported on July 30, 2017 when the flight was en route to Colombo from Kochi.
Passengers broke out in applause at the decisive manner in which the crew handled the situation, as none of the 202 passengers or any of the crew suffered any injuries and the Airbus A330-200 aircraft landed safely at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) at the scheduled time.
Shortly after the meal service on the 70-minute flight was concluded, alert cabin crew members in the aft area of the aircraft noticed smoke appearing from an overhead luggage bin. The cabin manager and the captain were immediately informed. The aft cabin crew members rapidly armed themselves with fire extinguishers and opened the bin. Upon finding a bag emitting smoke, they sprayed it with an extinguisher. The crew then removed the bag from the overhead bin and carried it quickly away from the passengers to the aft galley, at which time it began to emit smoke once again at a faster rate. Suspecting a lithium fire, they adopted the lithium fire extinguishing procedure by immersing the bag in a container of water. The situation was successfully contained and the bag ceased to emit smoke. Upon investigation, the crew found a lithium battery pack and two mobile phones in the bag.
The flight crew immediately informed air traffic controllers at BIA and the aircraft was met on arrival by dangerous goods experts, firefighters and other safety related personnel. Since the situation was under control, passengers did not require emergency evacuation and disembarked in the usual manner.
SriLankan Airlines has launched an investigation into the incident, as have the relevant authorities in Sri Lanka.
With its prime priority being the safety and well-being of its passengers, SriLankan Airlines provides all its cabin crew with rigorous training in the handling of all types of emergency situations, including possible fires on board. Also, the Airline has been actively involved in global safety measures with regard to spontaneous ignition of Lithium batteries. In October 2016, SriLankan imposed a total ban on the carriage and usage of ‘Samsung Note 7’ on board its aircraft.
SriLankan Airlines commends the crew of flight UL 166 for their vigilance, timely action and calmness under pressure in adopting the proper procedures, which avoided a major incident.