Shippers welcome stricter lithium battery rules
10 / 11 / 2015
Shipper representatives have welcomed new safety recommendations covering lithium battery air cargo shipments agreed by the Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Two weeks ago, the DGP recommended that lithium batteries should have a state of charge of 30% or less, when carried in shipments on commercial aircraft.
A full ban on the carriage of lithium batteries had been discussed by the group, but it was decided this would penalise compliant shippers and not address the broader compliance issues around the transport of the devices.
The news was welcomed by Global Shippers’ Forum director general Chris Welsh.
He said the new recommendations were a proportionate response to the risks associated with carrying lithium batteries.
In a recent article written by Welsh for Air Cargo News written in advance of the ICAO meeting, he said it would be churlish to ignore the dangers associated with the transport of lithium ion batteries but said a total ban on their transport would be a retrograde step.
“The GSF welcomes this proportionate approach and is urging all government delegations to the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel meeting in Montreal to support the mitigation proposals and further technical work on packaging to enhance fire protection required with the shipment of lithium batteries recommended by the Multidisciplinary Lithium Battery Transport meeting,” Welsh wrote.
“At the same time, it is incumbent on all the main air cargo representative organisations, not least the GSF as the international representative organisation for shippers, to highlight the need for shippers to fully comply with existing mandatory dangerous goods regulations relating to the shipment of lithium ion batteries as cargo.”
However, not everyone is pleased with the updated requirements. The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), wanted a temporary ban.
ALPA president Tim Canoll said: “In light of the number of airliner fires that lithium batteries have either caused or intensified, the pilots’ lives lost, and the concern expressed by airlines and aircraft manufacturers, it is unacceptable that the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel did not recommend to ban their shipment by air until we have adequate regulations to ensure safety.
“Until ICAO develops improved packaging regulations for the shipment of lithium batteries by air that guarantee that lithium battery fires will not spread, an interim ban on shipping them on all aircraft is essential to safeguarding air transportation.
“We hope that ICAO will ultimately make the right decision for protecting passengers, crews, and cargo by instituting an interim ban on shipping lithium batteries by air.”