NTSB Makes New Lithium Battery Cargo Recommendations

On February 9, 2016, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued two safety recommendations related to the transportation of lithium batteries on cargo aircraft.

1. Physically separate lithium batteries from other flammable hazardous materials stowed on cargo aircraft

2. Establish maximum loading density requirements that restrict the quantities of lithium batteries and flammable hazardous materials

Although the Department of Transportation (DOT) was barred by Congress in 2012 from establishing lithium battery safety regulations more stringent that those established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the NTSB is using an allowed exception to the law if it has "credible evidence of a deficiency in the international regulations that has substantially contributed to the start or spread of an on-board fire."  The NTSB is citing its investigation of the July 28, 2011, in-flight fire and crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 991. 

The NTSB strongly believes the circumstances and findings in the Asiana Flight 991 accident show the need for new cargo segregation and loading density requirements
— NTSB Press Release, 2/09/16

Two weeks ago, on January 27, 2016, the air navigation commission of the International Civil Aviation Organization recommended that the agency ban all shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries from cargo holds of passenger airliners.

Numerous passenger airlines have already voluntarily imposed such cargo restrictions for their aircraft.