On Oct. 4, 2016, Southwest Airlines flight 994 from Louisville to Baltimore was evacuated at its gate after a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 “smart” phone began smoking. (Not as smart as advertised, apparently.) All passengers and crew left the plane by the main cabin door, reported a Southwest Airlines spokesperson. No one was injured.
Most disturbing, the smoking phone was a replacement Galaxy Note 7 deemed safe by Samsung. The Verge spoke (by phone) with Brian Green, owner of the smoking Note 7, after the incident. Mr. Green said that he had picked up the new phone at an AT&T store September 21, 2016. A picture of the box shows the black square symbol that indicates a replacement Note 7, which Mr. Green said had a green battery icon.
Powered Down Phone Smokes
Mr. Green said that he had powered down the phone as requested by the flight crew, and as required by the FAA. He put it inside his pocket, and then it began smoking. He said he then dropped it on the plane’s floor and saw “thick grey-green angry smoke” pouring out of the phone. When Mr. Green’s colleague later returned to the plane for belongings, he said the phone had burned through the carpet and scorched the plane’s subfloor.
Mr. Green said the phone was charged at roughly 80% battery capacity when it began smoking. He also said he used only a wireless charger on it.
Running the phone’s IMEI through Samsung’s recall eligibility checker returns a “Great News!” message which says Mr. Green’s Galaxy Note 7 is not affected by the recall. (Can you say, “Oops!”)
The Verge contacted Samsung last week about its replacement phones catching fire. The Verge said Samsung issued a statement that is questionable at best, given Verge’s findings. Samsung stated:
“Until we are able to retrieve the device, we cannot confirm that this incident involves the new Note 7. We are working with the authorities and Southwest now to recover the device and confirm the cause. Once we have examined the device we will have more information to share.”
Mr. Green’s Samsung Note 7 is now held by the Louisville Fire Department’s arson unit for investigation. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is also opening an investigation into the incident.
FAA Bans Phones’ Use on Flights
The FAA meanwhile has announced that no Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones may be turned on or charged on commercial airline flights. Given this latest news, it seems the FAA has not gone far enough. If this story is true, FAA needs to ban the phone on all flights.