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PRBA Statement on Dreamliner Incident and Lithium ion Batteries

Billions of lithium ion cells and batteries are safely manufactured and transported every year.  In addition, lithium ion batteries are safely used in millions of applications every day.  Lithium ion batteries have emerged as the indispensable power source for notebook computers, mobile phones and tablets as well as medical devices and military equipment. More recently, lithium ion batteries have become indispensable in efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by leading the way as a power source for electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Lithium ion batteries are ubiquitous. And they are ubiquitous because they are fundamentally safe.

We are awaiting the results of a complete investigation and caution against making any judgments about the general safety of lithium ion batteries based on the very preliminary reports of the Dreamliner incidents. It is important to be aware that millions of lithium ion batteries and products containing them are safely packaged and transported on aircraft every year.  Also, lithium ion batteries have been used in commercial aircraft and the U.S. military’s new F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jet for a number of years. We are not aware of a single battery-related safety incident aboard these aircraft.

U.S. Department of Transportation Publishes New Proposed Rule, Request for Comment on Lithium Batteries

The U.S. DOT published today a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM); Request for Additional Comment on lithium batteries that includes a 60-day comment period.  (The U.S. DOT published a similar NPRM/Request for Additional Comment in April, 2012.)  This latest NPRM appears to be an attempt to eliminate an uncertainty as to whether the Agency’s proposal to harmonize the U.S. lithium battery regulations with the requirements of the 2013-2014 ICAO Technical Instructions was intended to replace the original NPRM on lithium batteries published on January 11, 2010.  There are five questions in the NPRM that focus primarily on the potential consequences of allowing shippers the “option” of complying with the 2013-2014 ICAO Technical Instructions for domestic shipments of lithium batteries.  A copy of the NPRM can be downloaded here.