Qatar Airways is only airline in the world to order a huge quantity of fire resistant containers, Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker said Tuesday.
The national airline has ordered 400,000 fire resistant containers to carry lithium ion batteries among other explosion-prone objects, he told reporters on the sidelines of the 78th IATA Annual General Meeting that concluded in Doha yesterday.
“Most of the fires we have seen in our aircraft were due to undeclared, badly packed, and sometimes refurbished lithium batteries being loaded on the aircraft.
“Some two months ago, we had a close call in one of our flights from a very small lithium battery. And we were very fortunate that it generated enough smoke to alert our pilot. And we did an emergency landing in an airport in Pakistan. It was a flight originating from the subcontinent. If the industry does not wake up, lives will be lost.”
Meanwhile, IATA yesterday called on governments to further support the safe carriage of lithium batteries by developing and implementing global standards for screening, fire-testing, and incident information sharing.
As with many products shipped by air, effective standards, globally implemented, are needed to ensure safety. The challenge is the rapid increase in global demand of lithium batteries (the market is growing 30% annually) bringing many new shippers into air cargo supply chains.
A critical risk that is evolving, for example, concerns incidents of undeclared or mis-declared shipments.
IATA has long called for governments to step-up enforcement of safety regulation for the transport of lithium batteries. This should include stiffer penalties for rogue shippers and the criminalisation of egregious or wilful offences.
IATA also asked governments to shore up those activities with additional measures.
IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh said, “Airlines, shippers, manufacturers, and governments all want to ensure the safe transport of lithium batteries by air. It’s a…
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