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Lithium batteries ’caused UPS freighter blaze’

[ July 29, 2013   //   ]

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) released its final report on the crash which killed two UPS 747 freighter pilots near Dubai on 3 September 2010.

While not pinpointing the origin of the fateful blaze, it found that the ensuing fire was promulgated by lithium batteries and that smoke-detection equipment took too long to alert the crew.

The FedEx Master Executive Council (MEC), which represents pilots at that express carrier and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) praised the report, saying that it “makes unmistakably clear the dangers of carrying large quantities of lithium batteries.”

MEC chairman Captain Scott Stratton added: “As cargo pilots, we are fully aware of the potential dangers associated with the carriage of lithium batteries.

“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 MECcalled for the US to take the lead in protecting aircraft against fires caused by lithium batteries, saying: “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.”

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