Lithium-ion battery pack catches on fire onboard Sri Lankan Airlines flight

On the 30th of July, Sri Lankan Airlines flight UL166 was nearing top of descent into Colombo when smoke was observed, coming from an overhead locker in the main passenger cabin. The flight crew declared an emergency while the cabin crew opened the locker and found a bag inside was emitting the smoke.

4R-ALB pictured at London Heathrow©Przemyslaw Burdzinsk

The cabin crew quickly discharged fire extinguishers into the overhead locker. They then removed the bag from the overhead locker and took it to the rear galley, where it continued to emit smoke.

Suspecting a lithium-ion battery fire fire, the crew adopted the lithium fire extinguishing procedure and immersed the bag in a container of water. The bag then ceased to emit smoke.

The airline reported a lithium-ion mobile battery pack and two mobile phones were found in the bag. The flight attendants had brought the situation under control, an emergency evacuation therefore was not necessary and emergency services awaiting the aircraft in Colombo did not need to intervene.

The Airbus A330-243 involved in the incident was 4R-ALB (MSN 306). The aircraft was operating flight UL166 from Kochi Airport (COK / VOCC) to Colombo-Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB/VCBI).

She landed uneventfully at Colombo Airport on schedule, after a 50 minute flight, despite the events that took place in flight.


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