China Air Fire – Due To Lithium Batteries?
A destructive fire at a Chinese airport on Saturday morning has led to immediate suspicions that lithium batteries may have once again been the cause of an air freight incident.
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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