UK CAA issues lithium battery warning

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The UK Civil Aviation Authority has issued a warning against sending lithium batteries by airmail or taking them on board flights.

Lithium batteries - which are used in a number of portable electronic devices, such as digital cameras and laptop computers - pose "a growing safety concern to the aviation industry", said the regulator.

"Over the coming weeks many people will be sending gifts in the post or taking them in their luggage as they fly off for Christmas," said Geoff Leach, manager of the CAA's dangerous goods office.

"If these presents are electronic devices, we urge the sender or passenger not to include any batteries, particularly lithium batteries. We have seen a number of serious incidents in the last couple of years in which these batteries are believed to have started fires in cargo shipments."

The International Federation of Airline Pilots' Association (IFALPA) in August demanded a revision of ICAO regulations with respect to air cargo containing lithium batteries.

According to IFALPA, lithium batteries have been responsible for over 40 reported air transport incidents since 1990, involving smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion.