Federal aviation officials have urged air carriers to voluntarily take steps to reduce the risk of cargo fires caused by overheated lithium batteries. This is an indication of the FAA’s growing concern about the threat posed by air transport of the batteries. The warning follows the crash in September of a United Parcel Service plane in Dubai that killed both pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged publicly for the first time in the safety directive that the Boeing 747-400 was carrying a large quantity of lithium batteries. Smoke from a fire in the plane’s main cabin, which was used for cargo, was so thick that the pilots told air traffic controllers they couldn’t see their instruments as they struggled to land the plane.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed new regulations in January that would require lithium batteries be treated as hazardous cargo. Battery shipments would need special packaging and workers who ship them would have to receive special training. There would also have to be special labeling and pilots would have to be told that their cargo contained lithium batteries. The regulations, which have not yet been made final, have been strongly opposed by the electronics industry, battery makers and some cargo carriers, including UPS.
Source: Associated Press
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