Last month, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) hosted its’ first international lithium battery workshop to explore key issues faced in the safe transport of lithium batteries.

The two-day workshop was attended by over seventy stakeholders from manufacturing, testing, logistics, airline operators, government agencies and aviation regulators. The group discussed lithium batteries and the risk to flight safety and evaluated practical solutions that could see the reduction of non-compliant shipments in air transport.

The UK CAA’s International Group hosted the workshop, with sponsorship from the UK Government’s Department for Transport, Aviation Policy and Strategy, Aviation Strategy and Consumers Division. Keynote speeches and panel discussions included representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Properly manufactured and tested lithium batteries are very safe. However, their high energy levels present a risk of the battery igniting and exploding if they are not treated with care or have a manufacturing fault. Mr Ben Alcott, Director International Group said, “Consumer demand for lithium batteries continues to grow, and so does the supply of low quality and counterfeit batteries that have caused fires in homes and workplaces. The aviation industry has already seen incidents involving non-compliant lithium battery shipments. To mitigate the risk to flight safety, the aviation industry cannot address the issue alone. By working with manufacturing, testing and logistics industries, we hope to prevent these types of batteries from entering the supply chain.”

The key point taken from the workshop was the need for all stakeholders to work together with regulators and rule makers and for a multi-layered response. Specific opportunities were identified concerning reshaping consumer demand towards products which have a readily verifiable safety status, assigning safety accountabilities to freight forwarders, sharing of non-compliance intelligence, analysis of shipment data to identify suspected undeclared shipments and closer collaboration between aviation and customs regulators.

Eric Gillett, the UK CAA’s Dangerous Goods Policy Specialist, said, ‘I am delighted that we were able to gather such a diverse range of globally renowned experts and I’m excited at the commitment shown by all, to work together on this important safety issue’.

After the workshop, Vincent Desiderio, US Postal Inspection Services said, “The meeting was amazing. It was incredible to see so many different interests represented under the common goal of keeping the public safe”. Christope Requile, Coordinator Standards & Procedures, Cargolux added, “it is reassuring to see what each stakeholder of the supply chain is implementing to prevent counterfeit batteries from entering the system.”

Captain Miguel Marin, Chief Operational Safety of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) said, “Congratulations to the team at the UK CAA on the success of the international lithium battery workshop. The organisation and format of the event allowed for an effective exchange of ideas among a vast array of stakeholders. It was engaging and very informative.”

Over the coming weeks, the UK CAA will produce a report of the workshop with the potential action plans for consideration and implementation. The UK CAA hopes that the new collective group can work together and produce an agreed action plan to take forward

For more information or to get involved with this initiative, please contact Nicola Keeble.

Over 70 aviation professionals attended the UK CAA’s first International Lithium Battery Workshop

Attendees worked together to explore ways to reduce the risk that non-compliant lithium batteries pose to flight safety.

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