U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Issues Recommendations to Prohibit Transport of Prototype Lithium ion Batteries by Air

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released on June 8, 2020 a Safety Recommendation Report that calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to carry to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel a proposal to prohibit the transport of prototype lithium ion batteries by air and eliminate from 49 CFR the provision that authorizes the transport of prototype lithium batteries by air.

The NTSB’s Recommendations resulted from their investigation into a June 2016 fire involving a shipment of prototype lithium ion batteries that started on a Canadian FedEx local delivery truck.  The 2400 Wh batteries had originally been transported by air on two separate FedEx cargo aircraft and off-loaded in Toronto.

The NTSB’s Hazardous Materials Accident Brief includes a failure analysis of the batteries involved in the incident and an evaluation of the battery design.  The probable cause of the incident according to the NTSB was directly related to the battery design and failure of the shipper to comply with the U.S. and international dangerous goods transport regulations.

For more information on this issue, please contact PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner at [email protected].