Wednesday, September 8, 2010

UPS cargo plane crash- are batteries to blame?

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the crash in Dubai last week of the UPS freighter. The theory is a there was a fire in the cargo hold.

From the Journal of Commerce

Crash investigators are trying to identify which type of cargo was located near the starboard wing of the three-year-old 747-400 freighter and are trying to determine if lithium batteries were present on the flight, according to report by The Associated Press.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 113 incidents on both cargo and passenger planes between 1991 and early 2010 involving “smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion” due to lithium batteries or equipment that uses them.

The Transportation Department in January called for stricter rules for shipping lithium batteries on cargo flights.

I know we are all tempted to discount the possibility of a lithium battery causing a fire, but apparently this is a real possibility.

Packaging and shipping goods for air transport is a very serious business. Too many people sign documents, certifying goods are acceptable for air transport, without really knowing what they are doing, or, worse yet, not caring.

I worked with a guy over 30 years ago, who brazenly put cans of paint in domestic airfreight containers, unmarked, not correctly packaged, and with falsified paperwork.

He seemed quite pleased with himself to save so much money.

I was too young and green to really know the danger, yet, I knew the shipping regulations existed for a reason.

So if you are shipping, or even using something with lithium batteries, take heed.

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