FedEx pilots have called for air safety regulations governing the carrying of lithium batteries to be harmonized across the world.
The FedEx Members Executive Council within the Air Line Pilots Association was commenting on the report issued last week by the General Civil Aviation Authority concerning the crash of a UPS jet in Dubai in September 2010.
The report did not pinpoint the cause of the fire that led to the crash, it suggested lithium batteries in cargo promulgated the blaze.
FedEx MEC said the report made “unmistakably clear” the dangers of carrying large quantities of lithium batteries.
“As cargo pilots, we are fully aware of the potential dangers associated with the carriage of lithium batteries,” said MEC chairman Captain Scott Stratton.
“These pilots’ lives were tragically cut short as they valiantly tried to bring their crippled aircraft back to the ground. Through their actions, they were able to prevent a much larger disaster from occurring. We owe it to them as well as to all of those who fly this nation’s commerce every day, to ensure that regulatory directives are harmonized across the globe and robust enough to preclude future events such as this.”
The GCAA recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its European counterpart develop better firefighting standards and equipment for cargo planes, with visual warnings about where a fire is located.
The FedEx MEC said it strongly believes that the United States must take a leadership role in protecting aircraft against the possibility of catastrophic fires caused by lithium batteries. The improvement in regulations covering the transportation of large quantities of lithium batteries must proceed immediately in order to begin to eliminate this deadly hazard, it said.
“Now is the time for the U.S. government to act to ensure the safety of our skies,” said FedEx Legislative Affairs chairman Captain Fred Eissler. “We will continue to work with our government leaders, dangerous goods regulatory authorities, and our fellow airline pilots to address the safety issues and concerns found in the GCAA report.”
“The FedEx pilots are committed to working with industry and government leaders to minimize the risks associated with the carriage of dangerous goods,” continued Captain Stratton. “The GCAA’s report adds to the building body of evidence that clearly shows much more effort is needed to facilitate negating the risks associated with the carriage of lithium batteries.”