Airline Industry Seeks Lithium Battery Ban

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The aerospace industry and a group representing airline pilots are planning to call for a ban on bulk shipments of lithium batteries on passenger aircraft, The Associated Press reported Monday. The batteries create an “unacceptable risk” of fires, according to a not-yet-published position paper from the International Coordination Council of Aerospace Industry Associations and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations. The ban would affect only bulk shipments in cargo holds, not the batteries that passengers carry on board in their personal devices. The paper cites tests by the FAA that have shown the batteries can catch fire when packed in bulk, and the fires are difficult to suppress.

The ban would apply to both lithium-ion rechargeable batteries — the type used in cellphones and laptops — and lithium metal batteries, which are used in watches and other products. The International Civil Aviation Organization changed its shipping standards last year to prohibit the shipment of lithium metal batteries aboard passenger planes, but not rechargeable batteries, which are shipped by air far more frequently. Some airlines, including Delta and United, already have said they will no longer accept shipments of the rechargeable batteries.

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