Only weeks after a United Nations committee recommended a global ban on transporting lithium-ion batteries via commercial and cargo airplanes, a U.S. senator has stated his intention to introduce a bill that would enable the Federal Aviation Administration to do the same on a domestic level.
Bill Nelson, a Democrat who has served as a senior senator for Florida since 2001, took up the mantel against shipping lithium-ion batteries on aircraft vehicles after the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board recommended restrictions against aviation-related transit delivery. The NTSB stated that the batteries were "a fire and explosion ignition source," as well as "a source of fuel to an existing fire" and could be "subjected to overheating that can create an explosive condition."
The dangers of lithium-ion batteries have been well-documented by the media as of late, especially in relation to one of 2015's hottest products, self-balancing two-wheelers known as hoverboards that have proven do be as unpredictable and high-risk as they are popular. Boards have been banned everywhere from airline's to New York City's public transportation system and public areas to Amazon's entire retail site. The reason? A combination of nonstandardized safety standards, faulty wiring and the volatile nature of the li-ion batteries that power them - batteries which can react poorly (and subsequently catch on fire) to something as innocuous as a temperature drop or overheating due to noncompliant plugs.
The same goes for large shipments of the batteries on airplanes - especially since things like turbulence and temperature drops due to altitude, even in their mildest form, can set off the batteries, all to dire and life-threatening consequences.
"If FAA testing has found that fires or explosions caused by lithium-ion batteries can lead to a catastrophic loss of an airplane, then why on earth would anyone want to prohibit safety regulators from banning large shipments of these batteries on passenger airliners," said Nelson in an exclusive with The Hill.
The FAA also commented on the current lack of legislation regarding li-on battery shipment, pointing to a "potential risk of a catastrophic aircraft loss" if shipment regulation continues to go unchecked.
As the BBC noted, the potential shipment restrictions would only apply to cargo: li-on batteries used to power devices like smartphones or iPads would not be subject to the same rigorous rubric.
Source: The Hill
Photo: Mark Turnaukcas | Flickr