The International Civilian Aviation Organization (ICAO), through its air navigation commission, is reviewing a recommendation from a U.N. panel to ban the cargo shipment of rechargeable lithium batteries from passenger airliners. The recommendation comes in the wake of a number of fires and explosions related to a popular recreational item, the hoverboard.

Aviation officials worry the batteries can pose a significant fire risk to airplanes, and even a danger that these fires could be severe enough to cause a crash. The ban would affect cargo shipments of the lithium-ion batteries, which may include tens of thousands of batteries in a single container.

Although hoverboards have pushed the potential risk of lithium-ion batteries into the international spotlight, they are used to power a number of devices, including cell phones, laptop computers and even electric cars. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tests on the batteries have revealed that damaged or defective batteries may overheat and cause a chain reaction of heat throughout an entire shipment. The batteries also have been shown to release explosive gasses. In FAA tests, these explosive batteries have blown the doors off cargo containers and set off massive fires.

The ban could possibly be avoided or lifted if new packaging is developed that could be proven to provide additional safety. About 20 airlines that fly internationally already have begun to voluntarily refuse shipments of lithium-ion batteries. The ICAO air navigation commission, which is made up of 36 members, will vote on whether or not to enact a ban. The commission was scheduled to meet in late February, after press time for this issue of the Report. We will try to provide an update in the next issue and keep you informed about progress on this issue.

Source: ABC News

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