Author: Ashley Magoon
In recent days, the rising amount of lithium ion batteries is raising safety concerns among the airline industry. Lithium ion batteries are found widely in cell phones, laptops, and other devices in the passenger cabin, but are also shipped in bulk and other objects in the cargo hold, which is a growing hazard.
According to the Associated Press, a test conducted by the FAA has highlighted some of the concerns involving the batteries. If the lithium ion batteries were to overheat or short-circuit in flight, they will emit explosive gases. Large amounts of these batteries together can obliterate an aircraft, especially in small, crowded spaces. Tests conducted indicated that temperatures can reach 1,100° F, as reported by the Associated Press.
On February 1, Delta Air Lines became the first airline to ban rechargeable batteries as a result of the FAA’s testing and safety concerns from crew members, reported Associated Press.
American Airlines became the second major carrier to announce that they would begin to regulate the amount of lithium ion battery shipments as of February 23, reports the Associated Press.
On Monday, United Airlines also declared that they were going to start banning bulk shipments of the batteries, again being influenced by the FAA’s testing, as stated on the Associated Press.
In response to the actions of the airlines, the Air Line Pilots Association stated, “We hope these actions will encourage other airlines to follow suit and discontinue the bulk shipment of lithium batteries.”
Despite the fact that large amounts of lithium ion batteries have contributed to or been the cause of in-flight fires in recent years, many cargo companies are continuing to carry them, says the Associated Press. Batteries have been attributed to the crashes of two Boeing 747 cargo airplanes in recent times, but companies such as UPS are implementing packaging strategies that they claim will reduce the risk of fire, including specially designed containers.
The preventive measures these three major carriers have taken to try to protect their passengers and crew, their cargo, and their airplanes could put pressure on other airlines to do the same, reports the Associated Press.