Lithium Batteries: are they safe?

A discussion on the safety of transporting lithium batteries


by: David Alexander, General Manager, ICAO AVSEC PM

The transport by air of lithium batteries has been in the news lately, from air carriers banning the transport of “hover boards” to the latest news that the FAA is lobbying ICAO for a total ban on the transport of lithium batteries on passenger aircraft.

But why the fuss?

Lithium Battery Fire Damage

UPS Plane destroyed by lithium ion battery fire

Imagine that you are on an aircraft at 36 000 ft and a lithium battery fire breaks out in the hold, a fire that cannot be extinguished by any current aircraft fire suppression system, a fire that provides its own oxygen, a fire that burns at 2 000 c and will continue to burn until it consumes all combustible material including the aircraft and…..you.

Far-fetched? No. unlikely? Possibly but we are not in the business of taking chances with people’s lives.

 

All that being said lithium batteries are perfectly safe to carry provided that they have been UN certified as safe for transport, have been manufactured by a reputable supplier, have been packed according to IATA standards and have not been mishandled. Batteries contained in equipment (cell phones for example) or packed with equipment (your new laptop) are perfectly safe.

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A lot has been happening on the safety front, this from The Loadstar.co.uk:

The US National Transportation Safety Board issued two recommendations this week to the Department of Transport. It recommended that lithium batteries be physically separated from other flammable hazardous materials stowed on aircraft, and also to set maximum loading density requirements, which would limit the quantities of lithium batteries and flammable hazardous materials on board.

 

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Cargo Security Bulletin to Regulated Agents, Known Consignors, Airlines and Charter organisations

This bulletin takes the form of short highlights, PLEASE CONTACT us by e-mail if you require any FURTHER INFORMATION or EXPANSION of the information provided.

Where italics are shown this means a direct QUOTE FROM REGULATIONS, TECHNICAL STANDARDS or other CORRESPONDENCE received from the SACAA or other official bodies.

NEW PROFESSIONAL TRAINING CENTRE OPENS

We have OPENED our TRAINING CENTRE at Unit C, Wingfield Park, Geertsma Road in JET PARK (map at http://www.professionaltraining.co.za/map-to-our-training-facilities.php)

Regular scheduled TRAINING PROGRAMMES covering aviation cargo security familiarisation training take place every Tuesday and Dangerous Goods Awareness (CAT 4) every Wednesday.

The 2015 training schedule is at http://www.professionaltraining.co.za/2015-training-program.php

EUROPEAN UNION CARGO SECURITY REQUIREMENTS EFFECTIVE 1 JULY 2014.

South Africa was placed on the EU “Green List” effective 1st July 2014.

In our view, this change REDUCES the level of cargo SECURITY.

It is our STRONG ADVICE that those Regulated Agents who are REGISTERED under the EU Regulations and hold EU RA3 APPROVAL, continue to APPLY the practices applicable to the EU Regulations for two MAIN REASONS, firstly, INCREASED SECURITY and secondly, if there were an incident, and an EU accredited agent had not COMPLIED with the EU Regulations (having made a DECLARATION to do so) this could be considered a serious BREACH OF LIABILITY INSURANCE requirements.

Certain of our clients have elected to become EU REGISTERED, despite the fact that we are on the Green List, which we ENCOURAGE.

COMPREHENSIVE BACKGROUND CHECK AND CV VERIFICATION SERVICE (INCLUDING CREDIT CHECKS)

This service includes what is required under Part 110 but also provides the FULL RANGE of employee background checks including:

· DRIVERS LICENCE

· PUBLIC DRIVING PERMIT

· MATRIC CERTIFICATE AND OTHER ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS

· CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK

· ID VERIFICATION

· CITIZENSHIP AND PERMEANT RESIDENCE VERIFICATION

· PRIVATE SECURITY INDUSTRY REGULATORY AUTHORITY (PSIRA)

These services are available to be IMPLEMENTED at YOUR PREMISES, please contact us for full details

PART 109 AND 110

We report, once again, with DEEP REGRET, and fear of the security breach that this presents, that the SACAA have still NOT YET COMPLETED the amendments to PART 108, 109 AND 110. This has been raised at the Civil Aviation Regulations Committee (CARCom), on which committee we are represented through the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA), but despite pressure having been brought at CARCOM, by our representative, we still sit in LIMBO as far as these regulations are concerned.

There is a STRONG INDICATION that the Regulations may be READY for presentation at the 26TH JANUARY 2015 CARCom meeting.

We have mentioned on numerous occasions, in our bulletins and elsewhere, that the REQUIREMENTS UNDER PART 108 for cargo screeners are COMPLETELY INADEQUATE.

We cannot be more adamant when we say it is VITAL that although the requirements for certification of cargo screeners, and training, under Part 110, are NOT CURRENTLY APPLICABLE you NEVERTHELESS APPLY these requirements STRICTLY.

FREE CHECK OF YOUR SECURITY MANUALS

We repeat point 4 of Bulletin 33.

If your SECURITY MANUAL was not prepared by ourselves or under our supervision, we would be more than happy to provide you with a FREE CHECK and WRITTEN REPORT on your security manual. The fact that your manual may have been approved by the SACAA does not absolve you from ensuring that the manual is accurate, all inclusive and practical. Here again there may be INSURANCE LIABILITY implications if your MANUAL is INCOMPLETE.

FACILITATED eLEARNING TRAINING

Here again, we must state with GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT that there has been NO DISCERNIBLE PROGRESS by the SACAA to bring the eLearning system into operation. The changes to incorporate the eLearning requirements are to be contained in the Part 109 amendments (see 4 above).

SACAA SERVICE

We would like to COMPLIMENT the DIRECTOR FOR CIVIL AVIATION, MS POPPY KHOZA, for her INITIATIVE in initiating a survey of SACAA SERVICE PERFORMANCE. This survey was conducted by a team from the UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA and consisted not only of a questionnaire, which was e-mailed to various bodies, but also meetings with industry in Gauteng and Cape Town. WE ATTENDED the GAUTENG MEETING, together with REPRESENTATIVES of a number of AVIATION ORGANISATIONS, and were assured that comments, suggestions and criticism would be CONFIDENTIAL and would be CONTAINED IN A REPORT which will be released to participants. The meeting we attended lasted some hours and there was an open detailed and SIGNIFICANT DISCUSSION, particularly focused on those WEAKNESSES that had been experienced with regard to service from the SACAA.

We will keep you advised and will distribute the report with the authority of the SACAA.

LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES

We repeat what was contained in Bulletin 33.

There have been NUMEROUS INCIDENTS of SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION of lithium-ion batteries around the world and there are strong rumours that perhaps large quantities of lithium-ion batteries were TRANSPORTED ON MH370. Please find attached two articles that appeared in FTW written by SEAN REYNOLDS who is OUR AUTHORITY on LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES. We are running a number of half day LITHIUM-ION BATTERY COURSES over the next couple of months. Please contact us for further information.

Lithium Batteries                                                 lithium battery article

We are very pleased to say that these COURSES are now available ONLINE which means that your personnel can complete this course while continuing with their operational duties.

AVAILABILITY OF THE CARGO SCREENING TEAM INCLUDING EMERGENCY CANINE SCREENING

We are AVAILABLE 24/7 through our control room telephone number 0860 PART 108 or 011 701-3320, further alternatively, through our General Manager Compliance, David Alexander at david@prisk.co.za or cell 082 308 0169.

We are AVAILABLE 24/7 throughout the HOLIDAY PERIOD.

THANKS AND GREETINGS

WE TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY OF THANKING OUR CLIENTS FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND TO WISH ALL OF YOU GOD’S BLESSINGS FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON AND THE NEW YEAR.

Kind Regards from the team at Professional.

SECURITY WITHOUT COMPROMISE WILL SAVE LIVES.

Do you prefer the coalface?

The importance of risk management is, unfortunately, best understood only when disaster strikes.

Freight industry management executives were inevitably born, and raised, at the coalface of the business.  The art of management, including risk management, is more often than not learnt late in the career of a freight management executive.   The entrenchment of coalface experience, which often means fighting fires on a day to day basis rather than constructive forward planning, is difficult to shake off.   This mind set is encouraged by the attitude that “it will never happen to me”.

There are a number of examples of failure to manage risk striking down the freight powerful simply because the “through the ranks” freight executives did not master this essential slice of the management pie.

Vulnerabilities in this area fall into a number of categories, I will concentrate, as this is my area of experience, on the risk management required in respect of the security of air cargo.

It is known, and accepted, that aircraft are vulnerable to terrorist attacks, I need only mention the word Yemeni and everybody knows exactly what I am talking about.  ICAO introduced, many years ago, measures which have been refined and improved over the years, to minimise the dangers of terrorist attack on aircraft introduced through cargo.

The success of these measures is dependent on the co-operation of the components that make up the integrated process from consignor to aircraft.   Like it or not, if a freight, or courier agent, and to a lesser extent perhaps consignor, is not actively participating the risk management of air cargo, it displays a laissez faire attitude, inter alia, to the stakeholders of the enterprise.  Shareholders are protected by the layers of law that separate them from the business, not so directors.   Half-cocked risk management of air cargo could involve the directors in personal liability.

The freight forwarder, courier agent or air carrier, who choose not to participate in the legal requirements of air cargo risk management, being Annexure 17 of ICAO and Part 108, 109 and 110 of the SACAA regulations, are in the front line of the legal liability firing squad should an incident occur involving an explosive device. This vulnerability of does not derive solely from terrorist threats, dangerous goods are an equal part of the risk management that must be applied.   Incredible as it may seem, many forwarding agents, courier agents and air carriers are not aware of the legal requirement that even if you do not handle dangerous goods your staff require, by law, certain elements of dangerous goods training.  This does not mean one or two persons in the warehouse, it means everybody in the warehouse.   This example of ignorance in the industry is a tailor made illustration of the point that risk management is very low on the scale of perceived, or practised management responsibilities.

It is said by cynics that we live in a cold, harsh business world governed by the quest for money in which truth, honesty and integrity take a back seat.  In this environment, moral obligations that the freight industry owe to society is often blurred, or even lost.  The aircraft that carries your cargo also carries sisters, brothers, wives, sons, daughters, and friends who are dependent on your integrity, your skill and your application of the principles to protect these persons from injury and death.    If you do not do your job by disregarding your moral and legal responsibilities, you could have the deaths of many many people resting upon your conscience until you too meet with the end of this life that we all face.

Post by Rob Garbett Managing Director of Professional Aviation Services (Pty) Ltd. this article was previously published in FTW