Pilots Seek Limits On Battery Shipments

Sept. 2, 2009
The Air Line Pilots Association International has called for a complete ban on lithium batteries in cargo until new regulations are in place

The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) is calling on the US government to prohibit shipments of lithium batteries on passenger and all-cargo aircraft until new regulations are in place to ensure the safe transport of these hazardous materials.

Citing a number of incidents, the ALPA has asked the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to issue a temporary prohibition on carrying lithium ion and lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger and all-cargo aircraft until the agency has concluded its rulemaking process on the issue.

ALPA's president, Captain John Prater, pointed to three recent incidents involving fire, smoke or evidence of fire associated with battery shipments as evidence of the urgent need to prohibit lithium battery shipments. Lithium batteries power laptop computers, cell phones, flashlights and cameras, ALPA points out. The group is not calling for restrictions on what passengers may carry, but rather for improving the requirements for transporting lithium batteries aboard aircraft as cargo.

The pilot group says it has urged the government to regulate lithium batteries as dangerous goods since 2004, including requiring appropriate packaging, labeling, marking, testing and pilot notification.