Battery Shipments Could Get Tougher

Last week, Boeing issued a warning about transporting lithium batteries on aircraft.  The news media is reporting that:

The guidance sent to airlines around the globe urged that they not carry the batteries as cargo “until safer methods of packaging and transport are established and implemented,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder told The Associated Press in an email.

IATA has published its own guidance on the subject.  In addition to republishing ICAO’s dangerous goods shipping requirements, IATA has also published its own lithium battery risk mitigation guide for air carriers.

The Portable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) issued a press release on July 20th in response to the Boeing missive that stated:

PRBA–The Rechargeable Battery Association shares Boeing’s goal of improving the safe transport of bulk shipments of lithium ion batteries by air. We look forward to continuing our engagement with Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, the airline industry and regulators at the ICAO battery meeting in late July to discuss battery transportation issues, specifically a new and unprecedented lithium ion battery standard and packaging criteria.

Ongoing international regulatory initiatives, along with the development of innovative fire suppression technologies and more robust international enforcement efforts are reducing risk and advancing battery safety. Together, these ambitious efforts to improve transportation safety mitigate the need to prohibit air shipments of lithium ion batteries used daily in thousands of consumer, aerospace, medical, military, transportation and environmental applications.

Safety remains PRBA’s No. 1 priority and our members are proud of their outstanding safety record. We also have supported ICAO’s recent regulatory initiatives on lithium batteries, including new stringent packaging and labelling requirements. Billions of lithium ion batteries have been shipped safely by all modes of transportation over the last 25 years. PRBA is not aware of a single incident involving the transport by air of a fully compliant shipment of lithium ion batteries.

PRBA also remains concerned that certification of aircraft fail to consider the unique hazards associated with the carriage of any dangerous goods, not just those associated with lithium batteries.

The FAA continues to press for compliance in this arena, and has announced multiple civil penalty actions related to improper shipment of lithium batteries in the past year.

Distributors shipping lithium batteries should make sure that the batteries are treated as dangerous goods and properly prepared for shipment, but distributors should also be aware that some carriers could refuse to carry lithium batteries in the wake of the Boeing all-operators letter.  It appears that some carriers have already banned the bulk shipment of batteries:

Several airlines have already banned bulk battery shipments from the bellyhold, including Cathay Pacific, United, IAG Cargo and Qantas.

About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association.

One Response to Battery Shipments Could Get Tougher

  1. Pingback: More Limits on Shipping Lithium Batteries? | ASA Web Log

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