Cargo Safety Controls
A risk control provides a mean to reduce or eliminate the effects of a hazard. The implementation of specific controls is based on an operator's analysis and acceptance of risk. It should be included in a Cargo Risk Assessment prior to implementation, to tailor their use and monitor their effectiveness. Ultimately, the operator is responsible for accepting risks introduced into their systems, and for implementing appropriate risk controls.
- Fire Prevention and Containment
- Cargo Loading
Fire Prevention and Containment
Fire Safety is a key area that may benefit from the implementation of risk controls. The FAA has created a Cargo Fire Safety website to discuss existing fire containment risk controls.
In November 2012, following three fire-related cargo aircraft accidents, the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued several recommendations that involve improving the detection of fires originating within containers and pallets, improving the fire resistance of cargo containers; and requiring active fire suppression systems in all cargo compartments or containers, or both.
In response to these recommendations, the air cargo industry and regulatory agencies collaborated with consensus standards organizations to develop standards for fire containment at the package and cargo container level. Research and industry innovation supports this evolving work.
Fire Safety Controls might include:
- Product level mitigation (example: reduce battery state of charge)
- Use of packaging with specific performance or fire suppression characteristics
- Limiting quantity of hazardous materials at the package and aircraft level
- Establish weight or energy thresholds for hazardous materials at the package and aircraft level
- Control of transport conditions: segregation, temperature control, etc.
- Control of transport equipment characteristics: thermal insulations, installation of dividers between consignments, etc.
- Control of passenger baggage to ensure items restricted to the passenger cabin are not stowed in the aircraft cargo compartment
Please review the following tabs for information about specific fire safety risk controls.
For lithium battery safety, risk management can be achieved through not only enhanced packaging, but also through the development, production, and encouragement for using safer cells and batteries and monitoring the supply chain.
United Nations Informal Working Group (IWG)
The United Nations Informal Working Group (IWG) on Lithium Batteries is developing a comprehensive hazard-based system and test methods to classify lithium batteries and cells for transport. This system will consider the inherent properties and propagation characteristics of batteries and cells. This group studies potential hazard effects such as released gas, flames, heat, and the associated consequences of these effects. To find out more, see Recharge and the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association's (PRBA) websites.
SAE International develops standards by reaching consensus amongst various industry and government participants. They formed the G-27 Lithium Battery Packaging Performance Committee to develop a minimum performance package standard for the safe shipment of lithium batteries as cargo on aircraft. The standard may demonstrate that the packaging used for air transport of standalone lithium cells and batteries is capable of containing the effects associated with a thermal runaway within the package. You may monitor the development of the standard, or find out how to participate in the working group, by visiting the Committee website.
Fire containment covers and containers operate as passive systems by keeping a fire contained to a single container or pallet, thus isolating it from other cargo on the aircraft. These devices contain and suppress certain fires, and are designed with special coatings and seals that control airflow. Special care to maintain these devices will be critical in ensuring they remain effective in mitigating fires.
When an operator identifies a hazard, the operator might consider working with entities in the supply chain to determine and define an appropriate risk control strategy.
Examples of supply chain risk controls could include, but are not limited to the following actions:
- Document, report, and ban shippers who deliberately or unintentionally offer dangerous goods for transport without declaring them or who improperly classify, pack, mark or label dangerous goods;
- Require proof of lithium battery testing before accepting them for transportation;
- Educate staff to recognize and stop shipment on suspicious undeclared dangerous good items;
- Adopt software or checklists to assess shipment compliance;
- Communicate issues to those in the supply chain and promoting safety, such as sending warnings, educating shippers, monitoring suspected violators, etc.;
- Encourage freight forwarders to apply safety conditions to entities earlier in the supply chain, such as requiring hazardous materials training;
- Verify shippers' dangerous goods training before accepting shipments from them;
- Develop processes aimed at detecting hidden (undeclared) dangerous goods, e.g., asking specific questions at acceptance locations, x-ray machines, etc.;
- Ensure applicable entities monitor their own safety performance and share their safety data.
Cargo Loading Controls
Most cargo loading incidents are preventable by adhering to existing regulations and company policies. As with many industries, human error poses a threat to safe operations. Controls could include:
- Emphasis on preparation and accuracy of the flight load manifest
- Emphasis on the training of cargo loading to preclude human errors
- Employ lessons learned from incidents and accidents