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IATA, manufacturers seek sanctions against illegal lithium battery on planes

By Wole Oyebade
16 August 2016   |   3:27 am
Worried by growing safety threats of lithium batteries onboard a plane, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has demanded stricter enforcement of international regulations regarding the transport of lithium-ion power batteries.
Tony Tyler

Director General of IATA, Tony Tyler

Worried by growing safety threats of lithium batteries onboard a plane, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has demanded stricter enforcement of international regulations regarding the transport of lithium-ion power batteries.

Lithium-ion powers our phones, our computers, and even our cars, but airplanes and lithium batteries don’t mix.

The risk is that, if left unattended, the batteries could overheat and burst into flames, and that in the confines of a cargo hold a battery fire and can spread so quickly that it could overpower existing fire-suppression systems.

IATA, in partnership with leaders of the lithium battery supply chain, yesterday urged Ministers of Trade, Industry and Transport, and Directors of Civil Aviation in the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing and export countries, called for its safety regulations to be enforced at the point of origin including the initial shipper and the battery manufacturer.

The body also called for the implementation of cooperative enforcement initiatives between jurisdictions to address situations, where lithium batteries manufactured in one state are driven over a border to be flown from another state.

Lack of enforcement is increasing pressure on airlines and regulators to unilaterally ban all forms of lithium battery shipments from aircraft. This would add to the cost of global supply chains and consumer goods, and encourage those who flout the law to increase mislabelling of batteries, further increasing safety and security risks.

The Director General of IATA, Tony Tyler, said it was high time significant fines and custodial sentences are imposed on those who circumvent the regulations.

Tyler said: “Safety is aviation’s top priority. Airlines, shippers and manufacturers have worked hard to establish rules that ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely. But the rules are only effective if they are enforced and backed-up by significant penalties.

“Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for regulating rogue producers and exporters. And flagrant abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalised.”

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