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Burning battery pack apparently forced Virgin flight's emergency landing

A portable phone charger likely caused a passenger's seat to catch fire, police said.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner seen landing

A Virgin Atlantic plane (not this one) had to make an emergency landing on Thursday.

Nicolas Economou/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Virgin Atlantic flight had to make an emergency landing Thursday night after a passenger's seat burst into flames. The fire was apparently caused by a portable battery pack, according to the Associated Press and police

The A330 Airbus was flying from New York's JFK Airport to London Heathrow, but was forced to land in Boston's Logan Airport after a passenger's seat ignited.

The initial investigations revealed "a battery pack consistent in appearance with an external phone charger" between the cushions of the seat that caught fire, but Massachusetts State Police didn't offer any further details. The airline's rules say you can't bring spare ion batteries exceeding 100 watt-hours (or up to 160Wh with approval) on in your carry-on baggage. You aren't allowed to keep such batteries in your checked luggage at all.

The 217 passengers onboard the flight were successfully evacuated, with one refusing treatment for "a smoke-related complaint," police said.

"The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we are currently investigating to fully understand the circumstances," a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said in emailed statement. "All our customers were offered overnight accommodation and onward travel today (Friday)."

Massachusetts State Police didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Infamously, the FAA in 2016 banned Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 phone from US flights after a manufacturing error caused its battery to overheat and explode. The Korean company recalled more than 2.5 million of the phones.

It was actually the second emergency landing at Logan Airport on Thursday, the Telegraph reported. A cockpit light on an American Airlines flight from Chicago suggested a mechanical problem, but it touched down in Boston without any problems.

First published at 2:41 a.m. PT.
Updated at 7 a.m. PT: Adds Virgin Atlantic statement.

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