FAA issues fire warning for lithium batteries

October 9, 2010 03:16


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WASHINGTON — Federal aviation officials urged air carriers Friday to voluntarily take steps to reduce the risk of cargo fires caused by overheated lithium batteries, an indication of regulators' growing concern about the threat posed by air transport of the batteries.

The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged publicly for the first time in Friday's safety directive that the Boeing 747-400 was carrying a large quantity of lithium batteries. Smoke from a fire in the plane's main cabin, which was used for cargo, was so thick that the pilots told air traffic controllers they couldn't see their instruments as they struggled to land the plane.

The warning follows last month's crash of a United Parcel Service plane in Dubai that killed both pilots.

Dubai authorities are leading an investigation of the accident with assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board and FAA. The cause of the crash hasn't yet been determined.

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