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Rationale

Lithium batteries can catch fire or explode if poorly manufactured, not subjected to mandatory safety testing, damaged or abused. When shipped on their own (i.e. not contained in or packed with equipment) their transport is prohibited in the mail and is restricted to carriage onboard cargo aircraft. The CAA has experienced an increase in the number of reports concerning bulk shipments of lithium batteries which were either undeclared or misdeclared as equipment containing batteries. If undetected, this has the potential to lead to the carriage of lithium batteries onboard passenger aircraft.

The carriage by passengers of lithium batteries (which are not contained in equipment) within checked baggage presents a higher hazard than carriage in the cabin, where crew members are able to deal with a fire should one occur.

EPAS requires that: Safety Issue shall be addressed by the Member States on their State Safety Programmes.

This will include as a minimum agreeing a set of actions and measuring their effectiveness. EPAS requires that Member States will develop a safety leaflet to inform general aviation pilots on the risks involved in transporting dangerous goods.

Outcomes

  • The UK CAA convened a multi-governmental agency and industry stakeholder workshop to explore ways in which shipment compliance can be improved (13-14 June 2019). Download the post workshop report (CAP1846)
  • The effects of fire, smoke and fumes onboard aircraft, caused by undeclared and undetected lithium batteries carried in freight, are mitigated through detection prior to carriage.
  • The UK CAA investigates occurrences involving goods consigned from or within the UK.
  • The UK CAA refers reports involving inbound cargo to the State of Origin and co-operates with the investigations lead by those States.
  • UK operators have conducted safety risk assessments to ensure that cargo acceptance controls address the potential for undeclared or misdeclared lithium batteries within cargo and mail.
  • UK CAA convened a multi-governmental agency and industry stakeholder workshop to explore ways in which shipment compliance can be improved.

Actions

  • Take action where the CAA can best mitigate risks from fire, smoke and fumes. Our analysis has told us that the highest risk is from undeclared and undetected lithium batteries being carried as cargo or mail. Our action will build on work we have already done with the Department for Transport and Rapiscan Systems to advocate a global capability in automated lithium battery detection. We will also explore the viability of detecting lithium batteries through existing visual x-ray screening technologies and processes.
  • Identify opportunities to pursue the outcomes identified through the lithium batteries stakeholder workshop with appropriate partners such as ICAO and IATA.
  • Continue to investigate reports of undeclared lithium batteries shipped from the UK and refer reports of shipments originating from outside of the UK to the State of Origin
  • Engage with affected UK operators to review their safety risk assessments, processes implemented and residual risk scores.
  • Work closely with other aviation regulators to understand fully the risks and potential mitigation measures.

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