Apple, through an industry trade group, is supporting the DOT’s effort to harmonize its rules regarding the transportation of lithium-batteries with those of the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. The international rules take effect on January 1, 2013.
Lithium-batteries have been known to spontaneously combust making them a hazardous material falling under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. In early 2010, the PHMSA had proposed strict rules that industry groups claimed would cost $1.1 billion to follow.
Apple, as well as Samsung, opposed the rules proposed at that time. The U.S. House blocked that proposal and Congress went on to pass legislation that prevented the U.S. from imposing rules stricter than those in place with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization.
Bloomberg reported that the PHMSA published a notice on the Federal Register that it was seeking comment on the proposed rule to adopt the UN standards. The UN rules are supported by Airlines for America, a trade group for the airline industry, and by the Rechargeable Battery Association, which represents Apple, Samsung, and Motorola Mobility.
It is estimated that without these safety rules, there would be a risk of lithium-batteries destroying a cargo plane as frequently as every two years. There have been two incidents since 2006 where lithium-batteries were suspected to be the cause of fires, one of which killed two pilots.
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