The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling on governments to develop and implement global standards to support the safe carriage of lithium-ion batteries by air.
The standards should include screening, fire-testing, and incident information sharing, say the IATA.
The organisation has long called for governments to step-up enforcement of safety regulations for the transport of lithium batteries but it is now calling for stiffer penalties for rogue shippers and the criminalisation of egregious or willful offenses.
The IATA is concerned new and existing shippers in the air cargo supply chain pose a risk through undeclared or misdeclared shipments of lithium-ion batteries.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, said: “Airlines, shippers, manufacturers, and governments all want to ensure the safe transport of lithium batteries by air. It’s a joint responsibility.
“The industry is raising the bar to consistently apply existing standards and share critical information on rogue shippers.
“But there are some areas where the leadership of governments is critical. Stronger enforcement of existing regulations and the criminalisation of abuses will send a strong signal to rogue shippers.
“And the accelerated development of standards for screening, information exchange, and fire containment will give the industry even more effective tools to work with.”
Additional safety measures
IATA is calling on governments to implement the following additional measures:
- Develop safety-related screening standards and processes for lithium batteries. This includes specific, outcome based and globally harmonised standards and processes to support the safe transport of lithium batteries
- Develop a testing standard for fires involving lithium batteries to evaluate supplementary protection measures over and above the existing cargo compartment fire suppression systems
- Collect and share relevant data to better understand the effectiveness of any measures implemented in the management of lithium battery risks. Better information sharing and coordination on lithium battery incidents among governments and with the industry is essential to help manage lithium battery risks effectively
These measures would support initiatives by airlines, shippers, and manufacturers to ensure lithium-ion batteries can be carried safely.
Actions have included:
- Updates to the Dangerous Goods Regulations and the development of supplementary guidance material
- The launch of a Dangerous Goods Occurrence Reporting Alert System that provides a mechanism for airlines to share information on events involving undeclared or misdeclared dangerous goods
- The development of a Safety Risk Management Framework specifically for the carriage of lithium batteries
- The launch of CEIV Lithium Batteries to improve the safe handling and transport of lithium batteries across the supply chain