Call for crackdown on killer lithium batteries

December 12, 2019
Lithium battery
The potential impact of a lithium battery fire. Photo: FAA

International carriers are moving to crack down on potentially deadly lithium-ion batteries dispatched by rogue manufacturers.

Consumer demand for lithium batteries is growing by 17 percent annually but the International Air transport Association warns that the number of incidents involving counterfeit or undeclared batteries from unscrupulous manufactures has also risen.

READ: FAA chief confirms MAX grounding will stretch into 2020

Lithium batteries are a fire risk and a danger to aircraft if not handled properly.

Watch this sobering US Federal Aviation Administration video of a simulated aircraft fire caused by lithium batteries: 

The International Air Transport Association wants governments to crack down on manufacturers of counterfeit batteries as well as mislabelled and non-compliant shipments.

It is teaming Global Shippers Forum (GSF), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) to boost efforts on the issue.

The four organizations have urged governments to introduce significant fines and penalties for those who try to circumvent the rules about the transport of lithium batteries.

They argue abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations put passenger and aircraft safety at risk and should be criminalized.

The campaign includes a new incident reporting and alert system for airlines as well as an industry awareness campaign on the dangers of shipping dodgy lithium batteries.

It also supports an initiative presented to the International Civil Aviation Organization that would see co-operation between aviation security, manufacturing standards, customs and consumer protection agencies.

“Dangerous goods, including lithium batteries, are safe to transport if managed according to international regulations and standard,’’ said IATA senior vice president airport, passenger, cargo and security Nick Careen.

“But we are seeing an increase in the number of incidents in which rogue shippers are not complying. The industry is uniting to raise awareness of the need to comply.

“This includes the launching of an incident reporting tool so that information on rogue shippers is shared. And we are asking governments to get much tougher with fines and penalties”