Most Read
Most Commented
Read more like this
MAS douses burning speculation on batteries
Published:  Mar 22, 2014 11:23 AM
Updated: 5:55 AM

MH370 After news that MH370 was carrying lithium ion batteries in its cargo reignited speculation on a possible fire during flight, Malaysia Airlines has issued a clarification.

In a brief statement, MAS said: "The lithium ion batteries carried onboard MH370 on March 8 were in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) requirements where it is classified as Non Dangerous Goods."

However, it did not specify the quantity or reveal any other details pertaining to the batteries in the plane.

Previously, when questioned about the cargo content, MAS chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya had denied that there were hazardous material on board, claiming that the Beijing-bound flight was only carrying several tonnes of mangosteens.

However, he admitted that MH370 was carrying lithium-ion batteries when quizzed on this during yesterday's press conference.

"We carried some lithium-ion small batteries, they are not big batteries and they are basically approved under the ICAO (The International Civil Aviation Organisation) under dangerous goods.

"It is not dangerous goods per se but in terms of... they are not declared as a dangerous good under ICAO, so we packed as recommended by ICAO," he added.

Jauhari also insisted that the lithium-ion battery cargo was checked "several times" to ensure it was packed in accordance with ICAO guidelines.

"Airlines do that all the time, it is not just Malaysia Airlines. These goods are being flown by many airlines as cargo anyway, (which) is based on ICAO’s ruling," he added.

According to the US-based Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a total of 141 air incidents involving batteries carried as cargo or baggage were recorded between March 20, 1991 until Feb 17 this year.

In rare cases, entire aircraft have been destroyed as a result of fires from lithium-ion batteries, with the most recent cases being Asiana Airlines Flight 991 and UPS Airlines Flight 6, though both incidences involved cargo planes.

According to new ICAO rules beginning last year, the shipment of two or more lithium-ion batteries exceeding a watt-hour rating of 2.7Wh require a dangerous goods acceptance check and a Class 9 hazard label.

For benchmarking, a lithium-ion battery for Apple's iPhone 5S is 5.92Wh and a Samsung Galaxy IV is 9.88Wh.

The rules for the shipment of equipment containing lithium-ion battery is less strict as every package equipment can contain lithium ion batteries which combined weight may not exceed 5kg.

Please join the Malaysiakini WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news and views that matter.