ALPA responds to ICAO decision on lithium-ion batteries

North American pilots have called for stricter regulations covering bulk shipments of lithium-metal and lithium-ion batteries on cargo aircraft.
While the US-based Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) welcomed the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decision to adopt a temporary ban on the shipment of lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft, it drew attention to the transport of similar cargo on freighters.
ALPA, which represents more than 52,000 pilots employed by airlines in the US and Canada, said: “We are pleased that ICAO supports ALPA’s long-held position that the shipment of lithium-ion batteries by air poses a significant safety risk on passenger flights, but more needs to be done to address the situation of bulk shipments of lithium-metal and lithium-ion batteries on cargo aircraft.”
An ALPA statement added: “US cargo airlines haul the bulk of lithium batteries to North America — and the important ICAO dangerous goods safe transport requirements are exempted from these bulk shipments. This is where the safety risk remains.”
The statement continued: “ALPA supports the continued development of a long-term plan that would allow safe shipment on all aircraft, but the shipments on cargo airlines must be addressed.
“If ICAO truly wants to make an impact, then it must deal with lithium battery shipments on cargo aircraft or at the very least, reverse the exemptions that except these shipments from being fully regulated as dangerous goods.”
The 36-state ICAO Governing Council decided on Monday to impose the interim ban on passenger jets from April this year, to remain in place until such time as the necessary, approved safety measures can be put in place for their carriage.
ALPA called on ICAO, the US Department of Transportation, battery manufacturers, shippers, and the airlines to “immediately eliminate the exceptions and enforce regulations that would ensure that lithium batteries can be shipped safely”.
It added: “It is time for Congress to pass meaningful legislation that will result in the safe air shipments of lithium batteries as dangerous goods.” 

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