ICAO considers lithium freight ban on passenger flights

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ICAO has been considering a complete ban on transporting lithium batteries as freight on passenger aircraft at a specially-convened meeting of its dangerous good panel.

The proposal was put forward during the 7-11 April gathering in Montreal, after a previous meeting in October-November last year found little support for an outright carriage ban on freighter and passenger aircraft.

Such an extensive ban might increase risk, states the proposal, because it would serve only to stop compliant shipments, and non-compliant shipments “would continue and likely increase in number”.

The revised proposal instead focuses on the hazard posed to passenger aircraft alone.

“While the risks related to non-compliant shipments of lithium metal batteries must be mitigated, continuing to permit their transport on passenger aircraft despite the known risks should not be considered an acceptable mitigation strategy,” it states.

“Banning the transport of lithium metal batteries on passenger aircraft would reduce the exposure rate thereby eliminating a significant risk to passengers.”

The proposal takes into account four options for carriage restrictions, put forward during a lithium battery transport co-ordination meeting in Atlantic City in February.

Of these options, the proposal says, a total prohibition on passenger aircraft is “the most appropriate” response. The other three options, it adds, are “not supported” by the proposal.