The Civil Aviation Authority has issued a warning about passenger safety following an electric wheelchair fire on board a flight arriving at Manchester Airport.

Ground staff unloading baggage from a Boeing 757 which arrived at the airport on 7 September saw blue sparks coming from the chair. The wheelchair was removed from the aircraft, placed on another vehicle where it burst into flames.

CAA manager of the dangerous goods office Geoff Leach said: “Thankfully no-one was injured as a result of the Manchester incident. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, but it does highlight the need for passengers to be extremely vigilant when taking items on board aircraft.

“Passengers need to be aware that some items, which are innocuous in everyday use, are capable of posing a serious risk to the occupants of an aircraft, no matter where they are carried on board and therefore need to be carefully checked.”

Battery powered wheelchairs may be carried by passengers subject to certain safety conditions, including:

  • ensuring the battery is securely attached to the wheelchair
  • protecting the battery and chair from short circuiting
  • ensuring that the wheelchair cannot become switched on during transport
  • Spillable batteries are subject to additional requirements. In all cases, passengers should contact their airline in advance to check what special conditions apply

Dangerous goods that must not be taken onboard are:

  • explosives, such as fireworks, flares, toy gun caps
  • gases, such as culinary blowtorches, camping or compressed gas cylinders, tear gas, mace or CS gas devices
  • flammable materials such as petrol, lighter fuel, paint, thinners, non-safety matches, firelighters
  • poisons, such as weed killers, insecticides and
  • corrosives, such as filled car batteries.