The carriage of lithium batteries on air transport continues to present a significant safety risk.

In March 2022, for example, Qatar Airways diverted a New Delhi-Doha flight to Karachi in Pakistan following the detection of smoke in the cargo hold. The incident is thought to have been caused by lithium batteries.

Unless remedial action is taken, the risk caused by the transport of lithium batteries will only increase. This is due to the accelerating rate of improvement in the energy density of a battery. Consumers are demanding more from their battery life and capability, and manufacturers are working hard to deliver.

Regulations cannot match this pace of development, rarely proceeding at anything other than a glacial pace.

“This issue is not getting the attention it deserves,” said Andres Bianchi, CEO LATAM Cargo, at the 78th IATA AGM in Doha. “It is my first concern from a safety perspective.”

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