Recalling fire on UPS plane at PHL, pilots' union calls for cargo-hold ban on lithium batteries

Here's one more thing to be concerned about when you fly.

One of the most serious accidents PHL has ever seen, a fire in 2006 aboard a UPS jet that almost killed the crew, is one of the reasons the largest pilots' union is calling for a ban on shipping lithium batteries in aircraft cargo holds. There have been several other scary fires of a similar but less serious nature this year, and the Air Line Pilots Association declared yesterday that the batteries need to be kept out of planes.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was monitoring the situation and working on tougher regulations but is not prepared to take emergency action now. More detail can be found in this AP story.  It includes a paragraph on the PHL fire, which broke out as the UPS DC-8 jet approached the airport, forcing an emergency landing. The three-person crew wasn't seriously injured but barely escaped alive. The plane was destroyed by fire as it sat on on one of PHL's main long runways.

The alarm raised by the pilots made us think about how widespread the use of lithium battiers have become. They are now installed in millions of cell phones and numerous other electronic devices. Did you know that lithium batteries are prohibited from checked bags but you can carry two loose ones in carry-on bags, as well as those in your phone, camera or other device? I only vaguely recall having read that myself but am glad to be reminded.