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Doc. ABDG/ 202
Members Advisory Body Dangerous Goods
Markus Schöni, FIATA Secretariat, AB Dangerous Goods Lithium ion batteries
Article published by TT Club and comment from Mrs Christine D'Arcy, Deputy Chairperson
Dear Members and Colleagues, We would like to share with you an article, recently published by TT Club in their company magazine "TT Talk" (Edition N° 135/29.10.2010) which eventually may be of interest to you:
Batteries again – this time Lithium ion batteries

We return to the topic of batteries, that was addressed from two different angles in TT Talk Editions 124, 24 Dec 2009 (nickel metal-hydride batteries) and 128, 12 Mar 2010 (recycled batteries). The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a warning to all US airline and charter operators to use special precautions when transporting lithium batteries on cargo aircraft. The warning reflects increasing concerns following a United Parcel Service cargo jet that crashed in Dubai after a fire broke out in the cargo compartment. The jet was carrying a large quantity of lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are commonly used in handheld communication and entertainment devices. The FAA's alert was intended to highlight the threat of batteries overheating and igniting causing a runaway fire. The bulletin also pointed out that fire suppression materials currently used on cargo aircraft are ineffective in dealing with fires caused by lithium batteries. The majority of cargo jets do not have advanced fire suppression systems in their main cargo holds. The warning fell short of ordering packaging, handling and paperwork changes, but the agency recommended better identification and tracking of lithium battery shipments along with paying special attention to ensuring „careful handling‟ of such goods. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering additional actions to reduce air cargo hazards. It is perhaps concerning that industry groups remain opposed to more stringent rules covering packaging, size of battery shipments and training for workers handling lithium battery shipments due to the cost of special packaging and installation of advanced fire suppression systems on aircraft. Of course, the experience encountered in air traffic is echoed in road, rail and sea transport. The Club has repeatedly called for increased rigour in relation to such dangerous goods and believes that safety in relation to a known danger should take clear precedence over cost. It is possibly also worth commenting that if fire is viewed as ineffective for cargo aircraft, it is negligible for other modes of transport and generally reliant on more traditional fire fighting methodologies. The Club has previously drawn attention to the FireFoe product (see TT Talk Edition 115, 27 Jan 2009) that could successfully be applied to situations such as highlighted here. For now the Club recommends that logistics operators and freight forwarders ensure the utmost safety is taken in account when transporting lithium batteries, particularly for airfreight shipments. In general, it is also recommended to ensure that packages or containers are segregated to the extent that if there is a fire it will not develop beyond the area of the batteries.
► Our Deputy Chairperson, Mrs Christine D'Arcy commented the publication as follows.
This topic was discussed at both the IATA Dangerous Goods Training Task Force in Geneva last week and also
at the UK Civil Aviation Authority Dangerous Goods Advisory Group Meeting at Gatwick which I attended on behalf of FIATA/BIFA respectively. The cause of the fire on board the UPS aircraft has not yet been established and there was considerable concern expressed about the „knee jerk‟ reaction from the FAA which is encouraging more stringent measures than those currently shown in the ICAO Technical Instructions when there is no evidence to suggest these are Now it seems the TT Club is also getting involved from the „insurance‟ point of view of wishing to control payouts for loss of or damage to aircraft and vessels. However if dangerous goods are properly classified, packaged, marked and labelled etc in accordance with the current regulations they can be safely carried without any I have already seen the TT Talk from 2 different sources so they are obviously promoting the distribution and it is likely other ABDG Members have already seen it but it may be useful to distribute in case they have not. However if you do pass it on I think it would be useful to include a caution that there is currently no evidence that the lithium ion batteries on board the UPS aircraft were the cause of the fire (although there is no doubt that they
would have burned with an intense heat once it got going). The explosion on the ship appears to have been the result of “abnormal properties of the chemical” which it is unlikely anyone would have known about at the time it was packaged and loaded. Unfortunately, any bad publicity resulting from accidents involving dangerous goods may lead to freight forwarders being required to make “checks” – something we have been fighting against for some time as this is not our responsibility. Should you wish to add any comment, please do not hesitate to come forward. Yours sincerely,
FIATA Secretariat
Markus Schöni


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