The air cargo (Boeing Echoes Industry)industry personnel have been trying to create awareness about the dangers of transporting lithium batteries in bulk for quite some time now. Boeing issued a regulation to their customers on the dangers of carrying bulk lithium batteries as belly cargo on passenger aircrafts. Boeing hasn’t released an official message, but the general gist of it is focused on the dangers of such bulk shipments. The airline is urging carriers and companies worldwide to discontinue accepting bulk quantities of batteries until there are measures to increase protection. Until the focus is placed on better packaging facilities and procedures as well as shipping methods, the carriers should stop the bulk transportation of these dangerous power sources.
This warning has been issued before by other organizations the US Federal Aviation Administration. Their statement was based on the concrete proof after they conducted certain tests to support their claims. The testing indicated that transport of lithium batteries are risky and should be ceased. Even Airbus shared similar inputs on this matter. The fire suppression systems are not always effective in dealing with lithium battery fires and many carriers in the industry have gone on to ban bulk shipments of these batteries. Transportation of these power sources on passenger aircraft is especially dangerous. So, does this move towards banning batteries which actually provides a considerable share of revenue to the air cargo industry final?
Some are assuming that considering the growing worry in the industry, the transportation of lithium battery cargos will be restricted to freighter aircrafts. But this is not necessarily true since companies like Cargolux have completely banned the shipment of these batteries. Until effective safety standards are put into place, most pilot groups are going to push for a total ban on the transportation of these batteries. There are some organizations trying to come up with better packaging solutions that will help in combating the problem. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been trying to find new standards of packaging that will be able to contain these batteries. But on failure to do so, the organization will probably propose a complete ban of the shipment of lithium batteries. But as of now, many carriers are on a self-imposed ban in this matter.
This decision can affect the industry to quite an extent since several types and sizes of lithium batteries and cells are shipped since they are used around the globe in devices like cell phones and laptops. A lot of consumer products use these batteries which could be a blow to the industry to a certain measure. The conventional fire-retardant chemicals are failing to put out the flames which can be extremely hazardous for the aircraft. More than 28 carriers have imposed a temporary or permanent ban and more companies are considering following their example. Battery manufacturers are taking a defensive stance to the current movements and are demanding the industry to also look into modifying their safety standards. Although there are other batteries that do not face such hazardous issues compared to lithium batteries, but they are not as in demand which is a problem. The air freight industry is still looking deeper into the situation in a hope to find a solution soon.