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Update: Initial reports stated that smoke had reached the cockpit of the aircraft. However, an airline employee confirmed that the smoke was contained to the cargo compartment.
If the FAA (or an airline employee) tells you not to do something, you should probably listen up. Earlier this week, Hawaiian Airlines flight 226 from Honolulu (HNL) to Kahului (OGG) landed safely in Maui without incident after smoke was detected in the cargo area. According to local media, a fire started in the cargo hold of the aircraft in a checked bag that contained an e-cigarette — which are banned by the FAA in checked luggage. Two bags were damaged by the fire. According to an FAA statement, a fire was extinguished in the cargo hold after the Boeing 717 landed safely at OGG.
There were no injuries to the crew or the 128 passengers on board as a result of the incident, however it could have turned out much worse if the plane was flying over water and there was nowhere to safely land. Thankfully, this island-hopper was within a short distance of its destination when the fire occurred.
The FAA has banned all electronic cigarette and vaping devices, along with any spare lithium batteries from checked luggage. However, the agency still allows passengers to carry them on board. Lithium batteries can pose a fire hazard and therefore must be kept with the passenger in the aircraft cabin for the duration of the flight. Last year, many airlines banned passengers from taking hoverboards on board for similar safety concerns about lithium batteries inside the devices. Let this incident serve as a reminder of how important it is to respect regulations, especially where in-flight safety is concerned.
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