Boeing Co. has recently announced that high-density packages of lithium batteries present fire risks and should not be carried on passenger planes until safer methods for their transport have been established.
This adds another call to the increasing clamour to stop bulk shipments of lithium-ion batteries on passenger planes.
Reuters recently quoted a Boeing statement as saying that the risk is “continually increasing (and) requires action to be taken.”
Boeing is part of an industry group including other plane makers such as Bombardier Inc. and Airbus Group NV that found existing firefighting systems on airliners cannot “suppress or extinguish a fire involving significant quantities of lithium batteries” thereby posing an “unacceptable risk” for the industry.
The main firefighting chemical, Halon 1301, is unable to stop fires from rechargeable lithium ion or non-rechargeable lithium metal batteries, the two main types of cells in consumer devices, the industry group said.
Boeing also said it agrees with the recommendations in the report by the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industry Associations and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations.
The report is due to be considered in April 2015 by a working group of the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a standards setting body.
ICAO said that to take effect, the recommendations would need to be approved by its dangerous goods panel in October 2015, and then by a broader air safety council in 2016. If approved, they would be included in the 2017-2018 edition of ICAO’s technical instructions for dangerous goods transport.
The ICCAIA-IFALPA report recommends banning shipments of high-density packages of lithium-ion batteries and cells on passenger aircraft until safer transport methods are implemented; establishing appropriate packaging and shipping requirements to carry lithium ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft; and establishing appropriate packaging and shipping requirements to carry lithium metal and lithium ion batteries as cargo on freight aircraft.