IATA calls for criminalization of lithium-ion battery violations

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is tired of waiting for regulation and is turning up the heat on the lithium battery issue. Lack of regulation and enforcement in the lithium-ion battery supply chain poses serious security threats, IATA warned in a letter to Ministers of Trade, Industry and Transport, and Directors of Civil Aviation of the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing and export countries.

The sternly worded warning is the latest in an ongoing effort by the aviation organization and industry stakeholders to ensure that rigid rules are enforced to ensure that lithium-ion batteries are produced and transported in compliance with strict safety standards.

“The actions of a minority threaten to undermine confidence in legitimate battery and product manufacturers. This a matter of deep concern for our members,” said George Kerchner, Executive Director of the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA), which represents manufacturers of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries and manufacturers of products powered by these batteries.

IATA, along with the PRBA, the U.S. Rechargeable Battery Association, RECHARGE, the European Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Battery Association, the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), have called on governments to cooperate across borders to prosecute manufacturers and shippers that violate the rules. The letter also calls for strict prosecution, and criminalization of violations.

According to the consortium of organizations, the current international legal structure still has “legal loopholes that prevent prosecutions of serial offenders.” Safety failures all along the supply chain are leading to unilateral bans on all forms of lithium battery shipments from aircraft, rather than prompting the harder, but ultimately more productive, response of cracking down on errant actors.

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