Monday, 17 June 2019

In Brief

Mid-air iPhone fire caused by botched repair job

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau have said people should get their mobile phones serviced by authorised repairers after an investigation revealed that a misplaced screw caused an iPhone to short circuit and catch fire during an Australian domestic flight.


Cabin crew used a fire extinguisher on a passenger's iPhone that overheated and began giving off smoke in the cabin when the Rex Airlines flight arrived at Sydney Airport last November.


An investigation by the ATSB found that a small metal screw had been misplaced in the phone's battery bay, probably during earlier repairs.


The stray screw punctured the battery casing, causing an internal short circuit that led to overheating which increased as the battery reacted and began to break down.


The phone repairs had not been undertaken by an authorised service provider, the ATSB said.


ATSB chief commissioner, Martin Dolan, said the incident highlighted the dangers of flying with lithium battery-powered devices and mobile phone users should only have their devices serviced by authorised repairers.


“The incident also highlights the importance of good maintenance and repair processes for these devices, and the risk of using non-authorised repair agents,” Mr Dolan said.


ICNIRP appoint new chairman after Vecchia moves on after 12 year term

The highly influential and visible Chair of the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), Dr Paolo Vecchia, has completed his 12-year term as Chairman.


ICNIRP is the international body which developed the scientific guidelines, which have been used in more than 40 countries, including Australia, to set the safe level of exposure to mobile phone emissions.


During his term Dr Vecchia promoted the consistent use of – or harmonised – guidelines for radio frequency exposure to mobile phone technologies globally and was very active in defending the scientific basis of the recommendation now used by most counties around the world.


Although international exposure limits have been criticized on many occasions by some groups who want other factors than the science to be taken into account in the guidelines, Dr Vecchia maintained the scientific integrity of the standards.


Dr Vecchi also maintained the scientific independence of ICNIRP which receives only funding from public bodies and not from the industry.


At his final address recently at the 7th International NIR Workshop organised by ICNIRP in Edinburgh, Dr Vecchia, said it was not ICNIRP’s role to consider the possibility of health effects which may have not yet been established.  This was the role of governments and not a scientific body such as ICNIRP.


Dr Veccia handed the ICNIRP chairmanship over to Rüdiger Matthes from the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).


Qantas pilots to use iPads in-flight but not passengers

Qantas will deploy 2,200 iPads to its pilots in a move designed to improve communication and data access while cutting down on cockpit paper, but Qantas warned this did not mean passengers could now turn on their iPads during critical flight phases.


Pilots will be able to use the 64Gb iPads with 3G connectivity to access apps during take-off and landing, that cover flight crew operating, policy and training manuals, as well as flight plans and navigation maps said Alex Passerini, Qantas technical pilot, technology development.


“That includes the critical phase of flight - take-off and landing - so it's fully approved throughout the flight regime.”


Mr Passerini said that despite running a series of tests to ensure that electromagnetic signals from the iPads do not interfere with aircraft systems in the critical phases of flight, passengers were still required to turn their devices off during landing and take-off.


“The reality is we've tested a very specific configuration - new iPads, up to four of them, operating in this specific configuration," Mr Passerini said.


“Unfortunately, there are so many different configurations and devices in the cabin it would be virtually impossible for us to test every conceivable configuration.”


See AMTA’s position on mobile phone use in aircraft here

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