Flaming LAX laptop was a ThinkPad

Lenovo confirms that one of its laptops caught fire, but it doesn't yet know if Sony batteries were inside.

A burning laptop that frightened passengers at Los Angeles International Airport over the weekend was a ThinkPad, Lenovo confirmed Wednesday, and that notebook ships with Sony's battery technology.

at the Web site Something Awful, involved a passenger running back up the jetway as a plane was boarding with a smoking laptop that eventually caught fire. Lenovo dispatched a team of investigators to Los Angeles within 12 hours of the incident, and confirmed that the laptop was a ThinkPad T43, said Ray Gorman, a company spokesman.

Because the area of the computer containing the battery was severely burned as a result of the incident, Lenovo has yet to confirm that the ThinkPad T43 was using one of Sony's batteries, Gorman said. That model does ship with Sony's batteries, but some notebook users choose to use different batteries after they purchase the system, he said.

Lenovo still has not seen an unusual number of incidents involving its notebooks and Sony's batteries, Gorman said. PC and consumer electronics companies have always had problems with batteries on occasion, but Sony's batteries were at the heart of two huge battery recalls announced by Dell and Apple Computer in August. That particular recall was caused by Sony battery cells that could potentially cause a short circuit if tiny shards of metal left over from the manufacturing process worked holes in the battery cells.

At the time of the Dell and Apple recalls, Lenovo took great pains to distance itself from its competitors, saying it uses a different charging voltage in its notebooks and has a different design for its battery casing.

Lenovo and Sony are working together to determine if the battery involved in last weekend's incident was one of the ones involved in the recall, and more information is expected over the next couple of days, Lenovo's Gorman said.

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