FAA Supports Banning Lithium Batteries on International and Domestic Passenger Flights

After a series of dangerous incidents involving the shipment of lithium batteries by air, the airline industry’s standard practice of filling cargo capacity in passenger aircraft is going through some changes. Leading these changes in cargo sales policies are the guidelines for shipping lithium batteries released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Over the course of this year, the list of organizations banning the shipment of these batteries significantly increased. After studies had indicated that the current fire suppressions systems in planes cannot handle the explosions and fire caused by a rechargeable battery explosion during a flight, airfreight carriers, airplane manufacturers, airlines, trade associations, and even UPS implemented stringent restrictions on the shipment of lithium batteries.

Now, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials are in support of an international proposal to ban shipping potentially dangerous lithium-ion batteries on passenger airlines. “We believe the risk is immediate and urgent,” said Angela Stubblefield, FAA hazardous materials safety official, after FAA officials met last week to discuss the proposal. They agreed with the increased risks posed to passengers after the discovery of the ineffectiveness of the fire suppression systems in containing lithium battery explosions.

Currently, there are carry 26 million passengers a year traveling with shipments of lithium batteries on flights to and from the United States. FAA research concluded that it only takes a few batteries to cause an explosion from extreme heat exposure. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries become an immediate threat on a flight because they emanate explosive gasses after exposure to heat.

For questions about these changes, or to receive help with the shipment of lithium batteries or other dangerous goods, please contact your OCEANAIR representative.