Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Boeing 787 Dreamliner: the huge aircraft is a recent arrival in passenger aviation Reuters

A British Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner, carrying around 200 passengers, has been forced to land in Siberia after a passenger's mobile phone overheated. Smoke was detected on board Flight BA18, prompting the unscheduled landing in the remote Russian city of Irkutsk.

The aircraft had been flying from Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, to London's Heathrow airport when it was forced to divert. The plane was a few hours into its 11-hour journey on 21 August when the smartphone triggered the alarm.

The plane landed as a "precaution" in Irkutsk, which is just north of Russia's border with Mongolia, said a BA spokesman. The Dreamliner was on the ground for two-and-a-half hours and resumed its journey to Heathrow after refuelling. No injuries have been reported.

The BA spokesman added: "We're sorry for the delay to the service, after our experienced pilots diverted the aircraft as a precaution. The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority."

The Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner is a recent arrival in international aviation, first appearing in service in 2011. While there is no suggestion that the latest incident is related to problems with the aircraft itself, the Dreamliner has suffered from safety incidents involving fires and airlines suspended its use.

In September 2014, a Dreamliner was forced to make an emergency landing at Glasgow Airport after reports of a suspected fire on board. The aircraft was later deemed safe.

But the entire global fleet of 50 Dreamliners was grounded in January 2013 after two unrelated incidents on planes operated by Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL). In the first accident, a JAL plane caught fire at Boston's Logan International Airport. Later during the same month an ANA aircraft made an emergency landing in Japan, citing battery problems.

Although it is a rare, smartphones have been known to catch fire or explode. In March Erik Johnson, from Long Island, New York, was left with second degree burns on his leg when his iPhone 5S exploded in his trouser pocket.

In July 2013, a Swiss teenager threatened to sue Samsung after her Galaxy S smartphone blew up in her trousers. "All of a sudden I heard the sound of an explosion – like a firecracker. Then I noticed a strange chemical smell and my work trousers began to catch fire," Schaltter told the French newspaper Le Matin.