Dogs To Detect Lithium Batteries
The detection of undeclared lithium batteries using dogs is being pioneered in France, and is expected to roll out globally following a successful six-month trial.
Up until now, there had been little means of physically checking undeclared lithium batteries, which is currently posing the biggest threat to airline safety due to the high fire risk.
Lithium batteries have been the suspected cause of fires on many standing aircraft during the past few years. However, airlines are often unable to carry out much needed checks as many of these shipments remain undeclared by rogue shippers, increasing concerns that a significant in-flight incident may be just a matter of time.
While Lithium batteries are considered safe to users when installed in electronic devices, such as mobile phones and power tools, they can 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.
The trial, held over a six-month period in Lyon, tasked two dogs with checking large volumes of various cargo types and they found both lithium ion and lithium metal phone batteries with 100% accuracy. In fact, the dogs were able to detect single batteries in the middle of one cubic meter sized shipments.
IATA, the airline industry’s governing body, are now calling on global governments to develop and implement these research methods for lithium battery detection. They argue that the stronger enforcement of regulations and the criminalisation of abuses will send a very strong message to potential rogue shippers.
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