TIACA Executive Summit: Aircraft makers to take lithium stand

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Aircraft manufacturers are expected to take a broad policy position by July on lithium batteries following research by the US government’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into lithium battery fires.

The FAA lithium research found that batteries with the same chemistries, but with different manufacturers, failed in different ways.

The International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA) had received many questions from aircraft operators and has been talking to Boeing and Airbus before coming to a common position.

The ICCAIA was not available for comment, but the FAA’s hazardous materials safety programme deputy director, Janet McLaughlin, says that she expects the lithium battery position paper will be published in the next 30 days.

Speaking during the lithium battery session of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) executive summit in Miami (US) last week, McLaughlin says: “There is a great diversity in batteries, the same chemistry from different manufacturers behave differently. Its hard to say there is one solution that fits all.”

McLaughlin adds that FAA tests have shown halon fire suppression systems stop combustion, but the decomposing hot lithium will produce hydrogen gas, which could ignite.

And she says, E-cigarettes, which use lithium batteries, have caused, “multiple [bellyhold] fires”.