Smoking iPhone Mystery Solved: Misplaced Screw

By Alexandra Burlacu | May 07, 2012 04:15 PM EDT

Share This Story

  • Print
  • Email

Back in November 2011, a flight had touched down in Sydney with a smoking gun on board. The gun - an iPhone that started smoking on the regional flight - was quickly extinguished, but an investigation was launched.

Follow us

An incident report the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) completed on Friday, May 4, finally sheds some light on the incident. Apparently, some dodgy repair work was the root of all evil.

According to the ATSB investigation (AO-2011-149), when the Rex flight had arrived in Sydney in November 2011, a crew member noticed smoke coming from a passenger's seat. Upon a closer look, the source of the smoke turned out to be an overheating iPhone, which was also glowing red.

"The cabin crew member...instructed the passenger to throw the source of the smoke into the aisle [and] discharged a fire extinguisher onto what was later identified as a mobile phone," explains the incident report.

The ATSB sent the phone to the United States, to be examined under the supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The U.S. facility discovered that the problem was caused by a screw, removed during a shoddy screen replacement, and misplaced inside the iPhone's battery cavity.

As the investigation details, the phone owner had the screen replaced by an unauthorized Apple service provider. The repair work was of poor quality to say the least, and the misplaced screw had shorted the battery terminals, thus causing the flare-up. Furthermore, the report lists an entire set of shoddy repair work. Besides dropping a screw inside the phone, it seems the repairer also managed to lose one of the screws meant to fasten the iPhone's main board; put two screws used to fasten cable in the wrong spots, and damaged the adhesive that holds the main board in place. In addition, the repairer removed the two liquid contact indicators and deformed a metal clip near the battery. It may have been a cheap repair (hopefully), but such shoddy work made everything worse.

In light of the findings, the ATSB noted that the whole situation indicates "a lack of appropriate quality control on behalf of the unauthorized repair facility." Lastly, the ATSB added that the incident highlights the importance of proper handling of devices. More specifically, lithium-ion battery-powered devices should be carried in the cabin, not as checked-in baggage.

"When traveling with mobile phones, laptops and other portable electronic devices - or just their batteries - passengers should, wherever possible, carry them in the cabin, and not in checked-in baggage," said Martin Dolan, ATSB's chief commissioner. The incident "highlights the importance of good maintenance and repair processes for these devices, and the risk of using non-authorized repair agents," he added.

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)

 

Get the Most Popular Mobile&Apps Stories in a Weekly Newsletter

© 2014 Mobile & Apps All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join Our Conversation

Smartphones
iPad Air 2 multi-core performance iPad Air 2 benchmarks praise A8X chip: ‘Fastest multi-core iOS device by a large margin’
OPPO N3 teaser shows off camera with ‘precision optics,’ reveals fingerprint reader
‘Microsoft Lumia’ officially ready to replace the ‘Nokia’ branding for future devices
OnePlus One goes on pre-order Monday, Oct. 27, for one hour only – No invites required
Tablet / Laptop / PC
Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8 Dell unveils Venue 7 and Venue 8 Android 4.3 Jelly Bean tablets
Retina iPad Mini facing delays, may not launch until early next year
Refurbished 128GB iPad with Retina Display now available on the Apple Online Store
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 – 2014 Edition: Pricing and availability now official
Gadgets
Amazon Logo Amazon reportedly to launch ‘Firetube’ set-top box before 2013 holidays
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear India launch: Pricing and availability
Samsung Galaxy Gear Android smartwatch now up for pre-order in Canada
Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 reportedly in the works already, may debut at CES or MWC 2014
OS / Software
HTC Logo HTC reportedly considering Android/Windows Phone dual-booting smartphone as Microsoft pushes for deeper Windows mobile integration
iOS 7 Chrome Incognito mode leaks private searches due to bug
Sprint HTC One Android 4.3 Jelly Bean already rolling out, AT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon to follow
Microsoft Windows 8.1 now available for pre-order
Internet / Social Media
Google Downtime Google blacks out for two minutes, causes 40 percent drop in world’s Internet traffic
Xbox Music web player is live and ready for Xbox Music Pass subscribers
Facebook Android app collected phone numbers even if users never logged in
Firefox 22 brings support for web video calls, 3D gaming, and Unreal Engine 3
What's App
Flipboard for Windows Phone Flipboard for Windows Phone finally available, but requires 1GB of RAM (VIDEO)
Vine gets major update, lets you upload previously-shot videos & more (VIDEO)
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) finally hits Windows Phone – Available as a free download now
Instagram releases Bolt ephemeral messaging app in select markets to challenge Snapchat
Copyright © 2014 Mobile & Apps All rights reserved. mobilenapps
Real Time Analytics