IFALPA believes that the current regulations governing the transport of lithium batteries are inadequate, and that the degree of risk and incident history justifies more stringent control of these batteries in transportation. When damaged, subjected to fire, or through an external or internal short circuit, non-rechargeable lithium metal batteries have been shown to burn vigorously, often igniting hours after damage has occurred. For a list of Lithium Battery incidents that have taken place on or near aircraft that has been compiled by the FAA, click here. Because a fire involving lithium metal batteries will not respond to Halon, the extinguishing agent used in aircraft, IFALPA contends that large shipments of lithium metal batteries should be prohibited on aircraft until adequate packaging can be developed to prevent the batteries from catching fire. While rechargeable lithium ion batteries are more responsive to Halon, these batteries are also capable of igniting following damage, external or internal short circuit, or when exposed to an external fire. Because these batteries must be properly identified and packaged to be carried safely, IFALPA believes they should be treated as fully regulated dangerous goods.
The dangerous goods regulations provide for packaging, labelling, pilot notification and quantity limitations for dangerous goods on aircraft. When these regulations are not complied with, the safety of all on board the aircraft may be jeopardized. Undeclared dangerous goods have caused several accidents with significant loss of life, including the crash of a ValuJet aircraft in the Florida Everglades and a Pan American aircraft in Boston. Preventing the carriage of undeclared dangerous goods remains a primary focus of the IFALPA Dangerous Goods Committee.