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Did Lithium Batteries Cause Crash of UPS Plane?

Fire Threat a Possibility

It seems that lithium batteries could be a security concern in flight. The cargo of a United Parcel Service UPS plane that caught fire and crashed in September 2010 included lithium batteries that should have been declared as hazardous cargo, but were not, according to an accident report released April 3 by the Dubai government’s civil aviation authority. The report also describes the struggle of two pilots trying to land their plane while running low on emergency oxygen and fighting smoke so thick they could not see their flight instruments or change radio frequencies. The Boeing 747-400 crashed near the Dubai airport on September 3, 2010 as the flight’s first officer attempted an emergency landing. Both pilots were killed. The report, which does not identify the cause of the fire, is expected to raise questions about shipments of the batteries. The batteries can short circuit and cause fires that burn hot enough to melt an airplane. A UPS spokesman said the company is evaluating about 40 different safety technologies in response to the accident, including some that would help protect pilots’ ability to see in smoke. He said the company is also re-evaluating cockpit emergency oxygen systems on their planes.