Boeing to ban cargo of lithium batteries on passenger flights

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.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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