Plane made to turn back after torch in luggage catches fire

The SriLankan Airlines Flight UL309 returned to Changi Airport after a butane torch they checked in caught fire and injured a baggage handler.
The SriLankan Airlines Flight UL309 returned to Changi Airport after a butane torch they checked in caught fire and injured a baggage handler.PHOTO: ST FILE

Five pastry chefs who had been in Singapore for a cooking competition forced a plane to return to Changi Airport after a butane torch they checked in caught fire and injured a baggage handler.

SriLankan Airlines Flight UL309 to Colombo was advised to turn back soon after take-off on April 14 for "safety and security reasons".

Police had been informed that a box had caught fire at the airport.

Although it was not loaded onto the plane, the 22-year-old handler who received it suffered minor injuries and received outpatient treatment.

The culinary butane torch belonged to five Sri Lankan men who are believed to have been here for the Asian Pastry Cup, which was held at the Singapore Expo. Such torches are classified as dangerous goods under aviation laws.

Police revealed details of the security incident yesterday.

The culinary butane torch belonged to five Sri Lankan men who are believed to have been here for the Asian Pastry Cup, which was held at the Singapore Expo. Such torches are classified as dangerous goods under aviation laws.

A spokesman said: "The flight subsequently resumed its outbound journey to Sri Lanka later that night."

Flight UL309 eventually arrived in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo past midnight on April 15, after being delayed for three hours.

The five passengers, along with all their baggage, were offloaded from the flight.

Following investigations, three of them were given a stern warning. No further action was taken against the remaining two.

Airport police asked for all check-in baggage to be screened again after the flight returned to Singapore and interviewed several passengers.

Police and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) reminded travellers that articles or substances capable of posing "significant risk to health, safety or property when transported by air" are classified as dangerous goods.

Items such as fireworks, flares and camping gas, are not allowed to be carried by passengers either in the aircraft cabin or their baggage.

Travellers can refer to the CAAS website for more details.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2016, with the headline 'Plane made to turn back after torch in luggage catches fire'. Print Edition | Subscribe