May 15, 2009
Pilots to Congress: Batteries NOT Included
Union urges lawmakers to rope in the exception to the rule
WASHINGTON—First Officer Mark Rogers, the Air Line Pilots Association, International’s Dangerous Goods Programs director, urged Congress to ensure the safe transport of cargo shipments of lithium batteries during his testimony Thursday before the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.
“Today, we are asking that cargo shipments of lithium batteries be fully regulated as a hazardous material,” Rogers said. “These batteries pose a risk when not transported correctly, and have a history of causing fires aboard our aircraft.”
Lithium ion batteries (such as those found in laptops and cell phones) and lithium metal batteries (such as those found in watches and cameras) are currently granted an exception from many of the hazardous material provisions. These provisions include placing a dangerous-goods label on the package; notifying the pilot in command of their presence; performing an acceptance check of the package by airline personnel; and limiting the quantity normally applied to hazardous materials carried in cargo compartments.
“ALPA also asked that the current ban on bulk shipments of lithium metal batteries, which aircraft fire suppression systems cannot extinguish, be extended to all-cargo aircraft until adequate packaging can be developed,” Rogers concluded. “ALPA has long been an advocate of one level of safety for cargo and passenger aircraft, and we find it particularly troubling that a commodity completely prohibited on passenger aircraft may be transported nearly unregulated on all-cargo aircraft.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilots union, representing nearly 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada.
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