Lithium batteries remain biggest headache

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The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) assistant director for cargo safety and standards, Dave Brennan, says the largest challenge around dangerous goods (DGR) remains the “improper preparation and shipping of lithium batteries”.

He says IATA member airlines are continuing to find undeclared and counterfeit lithium batteries, which pose a significant safety risk to both the air transport sector and the end users, as the batteries have been shown to be susceptible to catching fire, particularly during charging.

“IATA continues to call on governments and regulatory authorities to perform oversight, surveillance and, where necessary, enforcement actions of the manufacturers and shippers of lithium batteries to ensure the safety of the air transport supply chain,” Brennan says.

He adds IATA is nearing the end of the biennial review cycle undertaken with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP), with the 25th meeting of the DGP taking place later this month, in Montreal (Canada).

This review cycle includes the adoption of the changes from the United Nations as part of the multi-modal regulatory harmonisation. “Proposed changes around the provisions for the transport of lithium batteries by air remain high on the agenda as the DGP looks to identify and adopt methods to more safely transport lithium batteries,” Brennan says.

“On the training side, IATA has been part of an ICAO DGP working group that has been working on competency-based training for dangerous goods. This work has culminated in a proposal that will be submitted to the ICAO DGP to propose the adoption of competency-based training for dangerous goods from 1 January 2019.”

He says this proposal will see the details of the new competency-based training provisions published for industry and public comment for the period 2016 – 2017.

The information will be available on the ICAO and IATA websites from 2016 and as attachments to the 2017 edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations and the 2017 – 2018 edition of the ICAO Technical Instructions. “Based on comments received, the ICAO DGP will review and revise the competency-based training provisions as appropriate, prior to adoption into the 2019 – 2020 edition of the Technical Instructions,” Brennan concludes.