Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Fri October 09 2015

FAA Backs Ban On Lithium Batteries On Commercial Flights

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | October 09, 2015

FAA Backs Ban On Lithium Batteries On Commercial Flights

PHOTO: This still from an FAA video shows how quickly and powerfully a lithium battery can ignite. (Photo via YouTube)

After conducting its own tests that showed even a small number of overheating rechargeable lithium batteries can emit gases that can cause explosions and fires on aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration is backing a proposed ban on shipping the batteries as cargo on commercial airlines.

"We believe the risk is immediate and urgent," Angela Stubblefield, a Federal Aviation Administration hazardous materials official, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press at a public meeting on Thursday.

The lithium batteries are used for cell phones and laptops, among other items, and are often shipped by the thousands.

Boeing and Airbus already sent airlines a service bulletin earlier this year, calling the batteries an "unacceptable risk" and citing the FAA’s own tests.

As the AP noted, more than a dozen airlines stopped accepting battery shipments in the cargo hold of commercial jets.

The International Civil Aviation Organization will discuss the safety of battery shipments at a meeting in Montreal later this month. 

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