US FAA’s latest report on lithium battery aviation incidents shows 55 incidents that involved a battery smoking, igniting, or producing extreme heat aboard aircraft in 2022.
Of those 55 incidents, nine involved lithium batteries shipped on cargo aircraft. The other 46 involved batteries brought aboard commercial flights in passengers' pockets or carry-on luggage.
Electronic cigarettes/vaping devices were the suspected culprit in nineteen lithium battery incidents that involved smoke, fire, or extreme heat on passenger aircraft. That's more than involved battery packs (16), laptops (8) or mobile phones (5).
Add that to the list of reasons to drop a nicotine habit in 2023.
2022 Lithium Battery Incidents on Cargo Aircraft
Below is a summary of each lithium battery incident involving air cargo, as recorded by FAA on the Lithium Battery Air Incidents chart.
Improper packaging, along with damage to batteries during sorting or loading, were common factors contributing to these air cargo incidents.
January 3 (Circuit Boards)
Electronic circuit boards containing lithium batteries may have touched inside the packaging, “causing smoke, burning, and charring of the package contents.” Emergency personnel contained the fire.
January 28 (EV Battery)
A large electrical vehicle battery entered thermal runaway and burned during the cargo sorting process. The report cites improper packaging as the likely cause of the thermal runaway event and fire.
February 7 (Batteries)
A large shipment of lithium batteries ignited, possibly when loose battery connections came into contract inside the packaging. This caused a thermal runaway event. Lithium batteries must be packaged in a way that prevents short circuits and damage to battery terminals.
February 10 (Batteries)
Seven palletized and shrink-wrapped shipments containing lithium batteries “began emitting sparks which resulted in a fire.” Fire extinguishers were inadequate. The fire department responded and used fire-suppression foam to contain the blaze.
April 16 (Laptop)
A damaged laptop being returned to the manufacturer began to smoke at a cargo sorting facility. The smoking package was isolated and placed in a salvage drum.
April 26 (Hand-held Gaming Device)
A package of hand-held game devices was “discovered burnt and charred” at a cargo processing facility. One of the devices entered thermal runaway while in transportation, according to the carrier’s report.
May 30 (Laptop)
A laptop’s battery ignited when the device was damaged outside of a cargo sorting facility. The fire was handled with a fire extinguisher.
July 13 (Batteries)
A package containing lithium batteries was damaged during loading, when a forklift punctured a unit load device. The damaged batteries began to smoke. Airline emergency personnel responded to the incident.
September 8 (Package Tracking Device)
A package tracking device, powered by a lithium battery, was found burning inside of a baggage cart at a cargo facility. The battery short circuited during the handling process, and the fire was contained by airline personal.
Recent Regulation Changes for Lithium Batteries
A Final Rule to amend the lithium battery shipping requirements in the 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) will take effect on January 20, 2023. Published to the Federal Register just before the winter holidays, the new Rule replaces an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that's been in effect for nearly four years.
Get the details of the Final Rule here.
For lithium battery air shippers, mandatory compliance with the 2023 IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) begins on January 1, 2023. On top of the revised provisions added to the DGR last year that affected shipments of smaller ("Section II") lithium cells and batteries, the newest edition of IATA's regulation manual includes five noteworthy updates for lithium battery shippers.
(Video) 5 Updates for Lithium Batteries by Air in 2023
Join the First Lithium Battery Webinar of 2023
Start 2023 with training to boost your confidence and help satisfy US and international training mandates for lithium battery shippers.
Lion will present the first Shipping Lithium Batteries Webinar of the New Year on January 11, from 1 to 5 PM ET. If you can't make the live webinar, you can use the self-paced online course to learn how to safely, properly ship lithium batteries—by themselves, with equipment, or in equipment—by ground, air, or vessel in 2023.