The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) issued the following statement after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a temporary ban on the shipment of lithium-ion batteries on passenger airliners until adequate safety regulations are in place.
“We are pleased that ICAO supports ALPA’s long-held position that the shipment of lithium-ion batteries by air poses a significant safety risk on passenger flights, but more needs to be done to address the situation of bulk shipments of lithium-metal and lithium-ion batteries on cargo aircraft. U.S. cargo airlines haul the bulk of lithium batteries to North America—and the important ICAO dangerous goods safe transport requirements are exempted from these bulk shipments. This is where the safety risk remains.
“ALPA supports the continued development of a long-term plan that would allow safe shipment on all aircraft, but the shipments on cargo airlines must be addressed. If ICAO truly wants to make an impact, then it must deal with lithium battery shipments on cargo aircraft or at the very least, reverse the exemptions that except these shipments from being fully regulated as dangerous goods.
“ALPA is committed to work with U.S. officials to mitigate the risks associated with bulk shipments of lithium batteries by air, but we call on ICAO, the U.S. Department of Transportation, battery manufacturers, shippers, and the airlines to immediately eliminate the exceptions and enforce regulations that would ensure that lithium batteries can be shipped safely.
“The United States has been a leader in aviation safety. Earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board issued safety recommendations—based on the results of the investigations of a number of fatal cargo airline accidents—to help reduce the likelihood and severity of potential cargo fires and called on the DOT to regulate these shipments. It is time for Congress to pass meaningful legislation that will result in the safe air shipments of lithium batteries as dangerous goods.”