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  • Lithium batteries as cargo

    The AP (4/4, Lowy) reports, "The cargo of a United Parcel Service plane that caught fire and crashed last year included lithium batteries that should have been declared as hazardous cargo, but weren't, according to an accident report released Sunday by the Dubai government's civil aviation authority." The Boeing 747-400 carrying the batteries crashed last year. "The report, which doesn't identify the cause of the fire, is expected to raise questions about shipments of the batteries." The Department of Transportation has a proposal to treat the batteries as hazardous materials, a measure "opposed by a broad array of foreign and domestic companies" and which has been "effectively [blocked]" by a new bill passed by the House that make the US use "weaker" international rules.
    It is good to know that our representatives in congress are protecting us from the evil empire (DoT).

  • #2
    Originally posted by Highkeas View Post
    It is good to know that our representatives in congress are protecting us from the evil empire (DoT).
    I thought that batteries where already classfied as haz-mat? I work in logistics (trucking) and the batteries we ship are always treated as haz-mat. Specifically class 9, identifier UN 3090 or UN 3091 depending on whether the batteries are shipped as a component or shipped seperately.

    I can't imagine that a truckload would be treated to more rules then a planeload.
    Please visit my website! http://www.schipholspotter.com/

    Don't make me use uppercase...

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Petertenthije View Post
      I thought that batteries where already classfied as haz-mat? I work in logistics (trucking) and the batteries we ship are always treated as haz-mat. Specifically class 9, identifier UN 3090 or UN 3091 depending on whether the batteries are shipped as a component or shipped seperately.

      I can't imagine that a truckload would be treated to more rules then a planeload.
      I handle all of the shipping for my company, and if I ship anything with a lithium battery (which is almost every portable electronic device), I have to note it in each shipment other than those going ground. Anything going by air requires it.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Petertenthije View Post
        I thought that batteries where already classfied as haz-mat? I work in logistics (trucking) and the batteries we ship are always treated as haz-mat. Specifically class 9, identifier UN 3090 or UN 3091 depending on whether the batteries are shipped as a component or shipped seperately.

        I can't imagine that a truckload would be treated to more rules then a planeload.
        yes there are restrictions but the DOT and FAA want to update shipping requirements.
        Here is a recent report from DOT/FAA on Lithium Battery safety:
        http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/10-31.pdf

        By the way I deal with hazardous products (actually they are not hazardous as packaged but CFR49 says they are) that can only be shipped on cargo aircraft but not on over water flights (e/g., Europe) except for one international airline. When shipping to Hawaii we use an USAF aircraft.

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        • #5
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcd34tt8YPU

          --- Judge what is said by the merits of what is said, not by the credentials of who said it. ---
          --- Defend what you say with arguments, not by imposing your credentials ---

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          • #6
            Silly silly people.... Li-ion batteries Haz-Mat!!!! Well let's screw the World up a little more...

            Looking into the story a bit more it will be come clear how stupidity has won the day.

            What a shame people cannot admit their mistake instead of blaming the tools. This rule sure does screw up safety let alone security.

            On another note of stupidity, most US carriers will not carry the baggage scanners/x-ray machines because they think they contain Haz-Mat.... what planet do these people live on???? I am afraid we now have to live in a stupid PC World in case we upset someone, better to err on the side of caution rather than try and find out for yourself.

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            • #7
              Highkeas, some time ago I was working on a "little something" where I had to ship an air sample cassette that "may .. may" have some traces of asbestos.

              Most of the older ships still flying certainly had some somewhere (it is not illegal as a product; limited, but still more common then one thinks), but the FAA rep at JFK said that even shipping "hypothetical asbestos" was illegal.

              So, we had to pay a bonded driver with a COC and security sealed container.

              There is a real world answer and a "by the book" answer.
              Live, from a grassy knoll somewhere near you.

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              • #8
                I work on computer hardware for a living. I have seen the damage that laptop batteries can cause. It is surely a concern of mine when it comes to aviation. Its good to see that the FAA is taking it seriously as well.
                Life is good

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                • #9
                  Lithium-Ion, and Lithium-Metal batteries are dangerous. They are quite correctly called dangerous goods.

                  They know that temperature and storage conditions can lead to self ignition - and those are two things that you can't control easily on an aircraft.

                  These batteries on the accident aircraft were carried in the main deck compartment. Why? Because they are allowed to be. Li-Ion should be required to be in the lower cargo, where the suppressant is sufficient to contain them should the worst happen.

                  What the FAA are after are stricter packing requirements. I think that is entirely appropriate, given we have had accidents stemming from these batteries.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MCM View Post
                    What the FAA are after are stricter packing requirements. I think that is entirely appropriate, given we have had accidents stemming from these batteries.
                    Please explain to me how better packing can avoid further accidents?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cargo Runner View Post
                      Please explain to me how better packing can avoid further accidents?
                      If the shipping containers were designed to withstand the effects of a burning Li-metal battery it would make transportation safer. But obviously at an increased cost and shipping weight.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Highkeas View Post
                        If the shipping containers were designed to withstand the effects of a burning Li-metal battery it would make transportation safer. But obviously at an increased cost and shipping weight.
                        Ah yes but what are the options? what materials? and where do you stop? remove the batteries in laptops that travel in the cabin? will this include the likes of camera batteries? what about the battery in your watch because they are also giving button cell batteries a hard time as well....

                        Do you remember in the old days we use to be able to smoke on aircraft? Don't remember any aircraft crashing because of a lit ciggertere... anyway the amount of tax that pax have to pay it is a wonder anyone flies still...

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                        • #13
                          Please explain to me how better packing can avoid further accidents?
                          Have you read the FAA study linked above? It clearly explains the kind of packaging they want for Li-Ion batteries that will prevent fire from spreading.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MCM View Post
                            Have you read the FAA study linked above? It clearly explains the kind of packaging they want for Li-Ion batteries that will prevent fire from spreading.
                            The quick answer is no and that is because I am based in the UK where our aviation regulator is the CAA, not the FAA. (but I have read it now and knowing the inside information on why this has come about, all these 'precautions' etc are pure BS)

                            Furthermore, people should look at the why all of this has happened and see if all these reports are really protecting the World or protecting someone else.

                            All this started because a pallet (or as they say in the States, a skid) of button cell batteries (CR2032's I believe) caught fire while being moved, in a handling shed no less, at LAX. The batteries were not on, come off or going onto a plane at the time but in a warehouse. A Mexican worker who did not hold the approved licence to drive a forklift truck decided to help out with the transfer of some freight from an inbound aircraft pallet to an onward aircraft. As he went to pick the pallet/skid up he did not lower his forks enough to go under the pallet but had them raised so that they hit the freight. Being unfamiliar with how to drive a fork truck, the forks punctured the side of the freight and with is lack of knowledge on how to drive the truck he put his foot down on the accelerator thinking it was the brake, while he did this he also moved the forks/mast down because he thought he was coming out of the pallet and would go back in with the forks in the correct position. So instead of withdrawing he in fact drove forward more, pushing the metal forks further into the pallet of batteries, he was also lowering the forks and adjusting the tilt forward which pushed into the batteries causing him to puncture many cells and packaging and exposing the metal battery cases, some of which rubbed over each other and some came into contact with the metal fork blades. This action which lasted about 40 seconds caused some of the cells to spark or 'arc' and heat up etc causing some of the packaging to ignite. By the time the so called driver had pulled back he saw the damage he had done and could now see smoke coming from the puncture holes, he decided to get the hell away from the freight as he was not authorised to even be doing that and would get into trouble. The result was confusion and a fire on the pallet/skid which was allowed to burn because no one knew what to do in the event of a fire and therefore try and tackle the fire with hoses or extinguishers. The rest as they say is history.

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                            • #15
                              And how about the crash in the middle east within the last year that has been attributed to a fire caused, and sustained, by lithium batteries?

                              As a crewmember, I have a right to expect that the ONLY freight that I will carry is that which is safe for air travel. The FAA believe that Li-Ion batteries should be additionally protected and carried in the lower cargo hold (Rather than main deck) on cargo aircraft.

                              I think that is a reasonable request from and organisation who has actually bothered to research the issue, rather than most regulations which have stemmed from what someone thinks is a good idea at the time.

                              I think the freight industry needs to be very careful how they handle this issue - they do not want the whole "dangerous goods" can of worms opened, because I think it will result in some 'nasty' changes to the industry. Including aircraft operator verification of contents, rather than the acceptance of the freight forwarders' word.

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