July 13, 2020: Another Freighter Fire Raises Questions on Lithium Battery Safety

An Ethiopian Airlines freighter carrying three pallets of lithium batteries caught fire at Pudong Shanghai Airport. The airline released the following statement following the incident. “Ethiopian Airlines B777 freighter aircraft, with registration number ET-ARH, caught fire while loading cargo at Pudong Shanghai Airport today. The aircraft was on a regular scheduled cargo service from Shanghai to Sao Paulo-Santiago via Addis Ababa. All ground staff and flying crew are safe. Ethiopian has collaborated with all concerned authorities and contained the fire. The cause of the incident is under investigation by the appropriate authorities.”
Lithium ion and lithium metal batteries are prohibited on passenger aircraft and there are strict rules on their carriage on freighters. In recent years there has been problems with undeclared counterfeit, poorly packaged batteries. IATA has argued in the past that such products cause problems but will get onto aircraft despite measures against them, while legitimate manufacturers will lose out.

Latest freighter fire prompts new questions on lithium battery safety