28th Jul 2011, 21:05
Forgive me if this has already been covered but my search brought up nothing so here goes:
I notice another cargo plane downed by fire with the suspect being lithium batteries. These seem to have become a greater hazard over the last five years with the proliferation of portable electronic devices using them. The real suspects are the cheap ones. I notice that the US Department of Transportation issued an advisory in 2008 stating that spare lithium batteries should not be carried in hand luggage but devices with them fitted are allowed.
Is this a problem or just (apologies!) a flash in the pan?
30th Jul 2011, 09:13
From the IATA DG Regs:
Lithium ion batteries exceeding a watt-hour rating of 100 Wh but not exceeding 160 Wh may be carried as spare batteries in carry on baggage, or in equipment either checked or carry on baggage. No more than two individually protected spare batteries per person may be carried
Portable Electronic Devices containing Lithium Metal or Lithium Ion Cells or Batteries
Portable electrinic devices (watches, calculators etc) containing lithium metal or lithium ion cells or batteries when carried by passengers or crew for personal use, which should be carried in carry-on baggage. Spare batteries must be individually protected to prevent short circuits by placement in the original retail packaging or by otherwise insulating terminals .... and carried in carry-on baggage only. In addition each installed or spare battery must not exceed the following:
lithium metal or lithium alloy batteries, a lithium content of not more than 2 g; or
for lithium ion batteries, a watt-hour rating of not more than 100 Wh
There were two very interesting videos that went along with the DG training cse that I did with my local airline. They illustrated very well the problems that are faced with laptop battery fires. The second video is particularly good - imagine that in the cabin or hold of an aircraft, which is why the carriage of Lithium batteries (by themselves) in the hold of a passenger aircraft is forbidden.
‪Lithium Ion battery fire‬‏ - YouTube
‪LAX Laptop Fire‬‏ - YouTube
However, they may be carried in cargo only aircraft where the fire detection and fire fighting systems are better. There are also some very stringent packaging requirements for carriage on cargo aircraft (individual wrap, pacakge to withstand certain drop tests etc) which implies that damaged batteries may be a problem. This is reinforced by the regulation regarding carriage of batteries being returned to the manufacturer with a known fault or damage ... forbidden.
The problem may be as you say the 'cheaper' (= fake?) ones.
Certainly there used to be a problem with some of the batteries if they were allowed to run down too much. In a previous life I know of a thermal runaway with some lithium batteries that had been left in some Night Vision Goggles ... caused quite a bang if I remember correctly :eek:
30th Jul 2011, 11:05
This may all come to a head if insurance underwriters refuse cover for the cargo and any aircraft that carry it.
See message #30 in this thread from February, re' difficulty in documenting any actual events in Passenger Cabin:
here's the recorded events documentation (hopefully a newer version is available now):
Exploding batteries on planes: Rare and small risk | Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/02/12/urnidgns852573c400693880002576c7007460e-idUS357721593520100212)