Pilot association calls for safer lithium battery shipping

March 13, 2013

Washington – The Air Line Pilots Association, International on March 8 called (.pdf file) on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to mandate stricter requirements for domestically transporting lithium batteries and cells by air.

Lithium batteries and cells can overheat and ignite (.pdf file) if mishandled, and these fires are difficult to extinguish, ALPA stated. U.S. regulations currently allow exceptions from hazardous goods requirements for larger numbers of consumer-sized lithium batteries in a single package or on a single flight.

ALPA is requesting that shippers and carriers be required to adopt the International Civil Aviation Organization’s instructions, in which packages containing more than two lithium batteries or more than eight lithium cells are required to be labeled as hazardous goods.

ALPA’s statement came in response to a PHMSA request for comment (.pdf file) on whether shippers and carriers should be allowed to choose which lithium battery and cell regulations to follow for domestic flights.