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FAA urges airlines to assess lithium battery risks

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Staff writer ▼ | February 10, 2016
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a safety alert to U.S. and foreign airlines, urging them to conduct a safety risk assessment related to lithium batteries.
Risk   Battery fire can lead to catastrophic aircraft loss
The FAA also is issuing guidance to its own inspectors to help them determine whether the airlines have adequately assessed the risk of handling and carrying lithium batteries as cargo.

FAA battery fire testing has highlighted the potential risk of a catastrophic aircraft loss due to damage resulting from a lithium battery fire or explosion. Current cargo fire suppression systems cannot effectively control a lithium battery fire.

As a result of those tests, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus have advised airlines about the dangers associated with carrying lithium batteries as cargo and also have encouraged them to conduct safety risk assessments.

Hazardous materials rules currently ban passenger airlines from carrying lithium-metal batteries as cargo. In addition, a number of large commercial passenger airlines have decided voluntarily not to carry rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries.

The safety risk assessment process is designed to identify and mitigate risks for the airlines that still carry lithium batteries and to help those that don't carry them from inadvertently accepting them for transport.