Misdeclaration of Hazardous Cargo

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Not only do lithium batteries have the power to transform our lives, but they also have the power to quickly end them. Recent events have shown that lithium batteries have the potential of bursting into flames unexpectedly, which has had profound implications on transport, particularly air freight.

An incident in 2010 saw a loss of a UPS 747 freighter near Dubai which claimed the lives of 2 crew members. This was caused by lithium batteries which burst into flames after they were misdeclared to the airline by the shipper. To make this even worse this occurred on a cargo plane, but most air cargo is transported by passenger planes in the aircrafts bellyhold, beneath the passebatteriesnger’s feet. The consequences of undeclared batteries going off in a passenger plane are unthinkable.

A recent survey produced by the US Federal Aviation Authority has suggested that between now and 2021, there will be six accidents to domestic freighters in the US alone from lithium batteries combusting. Therefore it is expected that new regulations will be introduced to tighten the rules on shipping batteries and other hazardous cargo.

We understand that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) are running campaigns to make more people aware about the dangers of misdeclaring/undeclaring dangerous cargo. James Woodrow, head of IATA’s cargo committee, has said “Flagrant abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft safety at risk, must be criminalised, as are other actions that place aircraft safety at risk,” He also went on to say “Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for regulating producers and exporters.” Misdeclaring dangerous cargo is not a new issue within the industry, and even though we are targeting lithium batteries in this article it occurs with all other sorts of hazardous cargo.

In order to tackle this problem, IATA has been working with e-commerce businesses to help educate shippers and make them aware of the importance of declaring hazardous cargo. This is because the industry has seen an increase in deliberate non-compliance, especially from e-commerce sites that use normal postal services. IATA believe that this problem can be tackled by making more people aware through wider and more efficient distribution of information. One way this has been done is placing notices and labelling at Post Offices, where a lot of undeclared hazardous cargo travels through.


If you have or are interested in shipping cargo that is classed as hazardous or are unsure if the cargo is hazardous, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us. Our members of staff are more than happy to provide any advice.


This article was written by fwdfreight



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