The United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has discussed potential limits on the number of rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries carried by a single passenger aircraft, according to newspaper reports.
The discussions, which took place during an ICAO conference in Cologne on 9 September, involve bulk shipments of batteries, rather than batteries carried by individual travelers, reported the Wall Street Journal.
ICAO aims to place the “least possible burden” on battery manufacturers while still providing “the international aviation community with “an acceptable risk” level. Nancy Graham, ICAO’s top safety official, highlighed “concerns with the risks all lithium batteries present…on both passenger and cargo aircraft.”
Meanwhile, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest North American pilot union, is stepping up its campaign for more-stringent standards and regulations.
ALPA wants to outlaw bulk shipments of lithium metal batteries for all cargo carriers. In the meantime, it wants to ensure pilots have detailed information about the precise location and size of any battery shipments on a plane, and that cargo crews can get access to certain areas in the event of a blaze.
Battery manufacturers will seek to head off any new restrictions that might be imposed by the ICAO, believing that existing packaging and labeling requirements —combined with ICAO-mandated quality controls at factories – provide adequate safeguards.
“Rules for what you ship and how you ship it are bound to get tougher,” according to Brian Morin, chief operating officer of lithium separator maker Dreamweaver International.