Lithium Battery Powered Devices Set To Be Banned As Cargo On Planes

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After several house fires in Australia attributed to overheating lithium batteries the UN aviation watchdog has moved to ban passenger planes from carrying the batteries as cargo.

 

Recently Actor Russell Crowe and his son were stopped from
carrying a Lithium powered hoverboard onto a Virgin aircraft. Crowe resorted to
a media rant over the incident. 

 

The International Civil Aviation Organisation says the ban
is necessary because batteries can create intense fires that could destroy
aircraft.

The ban is scheduled to come into force on 1 April.

 

Adoption of the ICAO decision is not compulsory but many
countries do adopt the agency’s recommendations.

 

The ban does not affect the batteries inside gadgets people
take into the passenger cabins of planes.

 

The ban will remain in place until at least 2018 when the
ICAO is expected to conclude work on safe ways to pack and transport the
batteries, said Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the ICAO council.

 

The Rechargeable Battery Association, which fought the ban, said
its members were preparing to comply. It added that the transport restriction
could lead to “significant disruption in the logistics supply chain”,
especially for medical devices.

 

Uncontrolled burn

 

While the majority of lithium-ion batteries are transported
on cargo ships, about 30% are still delivered by air. Many travel in the holds
of passenger aircraft rather than in dedicated cargo planes. A single cargo
container can hold thousands of batteries.

 

The US Federal Aviation Administration estimates that air
carriers who transport batteries in bulk to the US also carry about 26 million
passengers a year.

Tests by aviation bodies have established that lithium-ion
batteries can self-ignite and burn with a heat of about 600C – close to the
melting point of the aluminium used in the superstructure of many aircraft.

 

Separate tests have also established that overheated
batteries can give off fumes that, if they build up, can lead to explosions
that knock out on board fire suppression systems letting the fires burn
uncontrolled.

 

The tests led Boeing and Airbus to declare in 2015 that
continuing to ship lithium-ion batteries in bulk was “an unacceptable
risk”

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