Aircraft Fire – Lithium Batteries Suspected
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Another aircraft caught fire on Saturday, with the focus of the subsequent investigation being on Lithium Batteries.
The Russian made Tupolev Tu-204C was due to fly to Russia before it caught fire at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport early on Saturday. The aircraft was destroyed, but all eight crew members made it out safely.
Speculation about the cause of the fire has so far been focused on lithium batteries. Hangzhou is an important Chinese electronics manufacturing centre and like this incident, lithium battery fires are particularly intense.
The subject of lithium battery safety on flights has been much debated recently , with concerns leading to new rules on their carriage being updated by IATA this month.
Badly packaged batteries have been the suspected cause of many incidents on standing aircraft, but misdeclarations and counterfeit products are reducing airlines’ ability to check for dangerous goods. Concerns remain ongoing that an inflight incident could happen before authorities are able to clamp down on such practices.
While Lithium batteries are considered safe to users, when installed in electronic devices such as mobile phones and power tools, they can actually be punctured and can ignite or even explode. When handled or stored together, this can can lead to fires, which is why they are considered dangerous goods.
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New rules have been introduced for the movement of lithium batteries by air. Effective from 1st April 2022, the changes were buried in the recent IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations.
China has been cracking down on imports and exports of dangerous goods and recent weeks have seen even more stringent checks and at times over zealous applications of the rules.
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