Washington, D.C. – The Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA) is calling on the U.S. government to prohibit shipments of lithium-ion batteries on cargo and passenger planes pending new regulations, in light of recent incidents including a battery pack for an electric bicycle.
There have been no incidents reported of cargo involving hybrid automobile batteries, but during the past two months, there were reports of fire, smoke, or evidence of fire associated with battery shipments on three separate U.S. airliners. The ALPA said that the incidents, which included batteries in an electronic cigarette, a cell phone and an electric bicycle battery pack, were similar to a battery fire in Pennsylvania in 2006 that was severe enough to prompt the National Transportation Safety Board to recommend the full regulation of these types of batteries as dangerous goods.
“ALPA has long called for regulations to ensure that safety is the first priority in transporting shipments of lithium batteries aboard airliners,” said Mark Rogers, director of ALPA’s dangerous goods program. “Now, the evidence of a clear and present danger is mounting. We need an immediate ban on these dangerous goods to protect airline passengers, crews and cargo.”
ALPA said that it is not calling on restrictions for items passengers are permitted to bring on board an aircraft, but that it is extremely concerned about the risk of transporting lithium batteries as cargo. Since 2004, the association has urged the Department of Transportation to regulate the batteries as dangerous goods, including requiring appropriate packaging, labelling, marking, testing, and pilot notification.