A DC-8 cargo fire in 2006 was likely caused by lithium batteries
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) partnered with the lithium battery industry to demand stricter enforcement of international regulations regarding the transport of lithium batteries.
In a joint letter to Ministers of Trade, Industry and Transport, and Directors of Civil Aviation in the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing and export countries, the organisations call for lithium battery safety regulations to be enforced at the point of origin including the initial shipper and the battery manufacturer.
The letter also called for implementation of cooperative enforcement initiatives between jurisdictions to address situations, where lithium batteries manufactured in one state are driven over a border to be flown from another state. The global associations also called for significant fines and custodial sentences to be imposed on those who circumvent the regulations.
The transportation of lithium batteries is a growing concern in the aviation industry after several accidents involving cargo aircraft in which (suspected) shipments of lithium batteries caught fire on board. To avoid this, regulations are in place regarding the safe packaging and shipping of lithium batteries.
IATA and the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA) have called upon governments to address the danger posed by the wilful disregard of these international regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers and to close existing legal loopholes that prevent prosecutions of serial offenders.
IATA and the lithium battery industry fear that the lack of enforcement is increasing pressure on airlines and regulators to unilaterally ban all forms of lithium battery shipments from aircraft. This would add to the cost of global supply chains and consumer goods, and encourage those who flout the law to increase mislabelling of batteries, further increasing safety and security risks, IATA claims.
The organisations that signed the letters are: IATA, PRBA, the US Rechargeable Battery Association, RECHARGE, the European Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Battery Association, the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA)