Another cargo aircraft carrying batteries crashes – off South Korea

Another cargo plane has crashed, killing its two pilots, due to fire in the cargo
hold caused by lithium batteries igniting. The Asiana Airlines’ B747 freighter
was off South Korea when it crashed into the sea.  It was claimed the pilot had
shouted “cargo fire” and “emergency” about 10 minutes before the aircraft disappeared from radar screens. It was carrying electronic products, mobile phones, liquid crystal displays, LEDs,  lithium batteries and liquids
29.7.2011 (IFW)


Two killed after B747 pilot warns of fire on board and fails in bid to make emergency
Another cargo aircraft carrying lithium batteries caught fire and crashed yesterday,
killing both pilots.
The Asiana Airlines’ B747 freighter was heading for Pudong Airport in Shanghai
from South Korea’s Incheon Airport when it crashed just off Jeju Island in the
south of country.Asiana officials got a report from the pilot that the Boeing-747 was having mechanical
difficulties and would try to make its way to Jeju Island’s airport to make an
emergency landing.

According to reports, an air traffic official claimed the pilot had shouted “cargo
fire” and “emergency” about 10 minutes before the aircraft disappeared from radar

A South Korean coastguard boat has since found debris from the jet in waters
about 107km west of Jeju city.

Asiana Airlines, which is South Korea’s second biggest airline, said the aircraft
was carrying electronic products, mobile phones, liquid crystal displays, light-emitting
diodes, lithium batteries and liquids including paints and resins.

A company spokesman said the cargo had been loaded in line with International
Air Transport Association regulations.

While it is too early for officials to pinpoint the cause of the fire, the incident
is bound to bring the transport of lithium batteries into the spotlight once again.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said 46 incidents of aircraft fires
had been linked to
cargo including lithium-ion batteries.

The most recent high-profile incident involving batteries happened in September
when a UPS cargo plane crashed into the desert outside Dubai, killing both pilots.

Following the incident, the FAA said new research showed that lithium metal (non-rechargeable)
and lithium-ion (rechargeable) batteries were highly flammable and capable of
igniting during air transport under certain circumstances.

The research also indicated that Halon 1301, the suppression agent found in Class
C cargo compartment fire extinguishers, is ineffective in suppressing lithium
metal battery fires.

To combat the risks associated with carrying the batteries the FAA made a series
of recommendations.

It said customers should identify bulk shipments of lithium batteries on air
waybills and other documents; the batteries should be stowed in Class C compartments,
or where alternative fire suppression is available; training, stowage, and communication
protocols for carrying lithium batteries in the event of a fire should be evaluated.

According to research by specialist dangerous goods forwarder Transport 129,
lithium cells and batteries not manufactured to meet the requirements of the UN
Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, subsection 38.3 may be liable to overheating
and catching fire.

This is not the first air cargo plane crash in which a fire caused by lithium
batteries was the cause. There was also a fire on a UPS plane in September 2010
in Dubai, in which the plane crashed and the crew were killed.
see also
April 2011
October 2010

Two UPS pilots killed as freighter crashes near Dubai – due to lithium battery

6th September 2010    Crew reported radio problems and smoke in the cockpit of the B747-400 freighter
shortly before the crash. The cause was not known at the time, but is now known
to be a fire caused by lithium batteries. The 2 US pilots had reported problems
and were attempting to return to Dubai’s main airport shortly after taking off.
The aircraft crashed in an unpopulated area 50 minutes from departure. Non-rechargeable
and rechargeable lithium batteries are flammable. (IFW)   Click here to view full story…     

see also
13 December 2011 (TravelMole)

Battery warning for passengers from CAA

The CAA has warned against posting Christmas gifts containing lithium batteries or carrying them on flights.

The aviation regulator claims batteries pose a safety risk and can short circuit or overheat in the confined, pressurised environment of a plane.

Lithium batteries, used in MP3 players, digital cameras, camcorders and laptops, are believed to have started fires when not treated properly on aircraft.

Last month a mobile phone caught fire on a Boeing 747 inbound to London Heathrow after being crushed by a seat as a passenger reclined. Cabin crew were able to extinguish the fire before any serious damage occurred.

Geoff Leach, manager of the dangerous goods office at the CAA, said: “Over the coming weeks many people will be sending gifts in the post.

“If these presents are electronic devices, we urge the sender not to include any lithium batteries.

“We have seen a number of serious incidents in the last couple of years in which these batteries are believed to have started fires in cargo shipments. Some lithium batteries are permitted in passenger baggage, but specific conditions apply; details of these can be found on the CAA web site.”

See the dangerous goods section of the CAA website.

By Diane Evans