Wednesday, January 28, 2015

US Air Freight Carrier Accused of Violating Hazardous Goods Regulations on Dozens of Occasions

Penalty for Endangering Aircraft May Top a Million Dollars
Shipping News Feature

US – The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $1.3 million civil penalty against United Airlines of Chicago, Illinois, for allegedly violating Hazardous Materials Regulations, by providing inadequate information about the cargo aboard aircraft carrying freight and passengers on both domestic and international flights. United has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.

The FAA alleges that during inspections in Boston, San Francisco, Denver and Chicago, the FAA discovered at least 120 instances in which the carrier failed to comply with the regulations. Almost all of the alleged violations involved failing to provide the pilot in command with accurate information about hazardous materials aboard the aircraft, including the location of the materials on the aircraft; the materials’ type, quantity, weight, proper shipping name, identification number and hazard class; dates of the flights; and confirmation that no damaged or leaking packages had been loaded onto the aircraft.

Further, the FAA alleges that on two separate occasions, United improperly accepted hazardous materials for air transportation. Additionally, the carrier allegedly failed to retain copies of shipping papers. Among other things, the hazardous materials listed formed a positive smorgasbord of dangerous goods, including lithium metal batteries, dry ice, corrosive liquids, radioactive materials, detonating fuses, compressed oxygen, engines, isopropanol, non-flammable aerosols, phosphoric acid, sodium hydroxide and ethanol solutions, air bag modules and printing ink. US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said:

“These regulations are intended to keep flight crews and the public safe and we expect airlines to follow these rules to the letter.”

United told the FAA that it has made technological improvements to the pilot notification system and will enhance training for employees who load hazardous materials onto aircraft. The FAA will conduct inspections in early 2015 to assess the results of those changes. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, added:

“Knowing exactly what’s on board the aircraft and where it’s located provides the crew with a better chance of safely handling an emergency.”

Carrying lithium batteries is a particular bone of contention at the moment with this type of product being associated with dozens of in air incidents and with the Boeing Dreamliner scenario which saw the entire fleet grounded until precautions could be taken when the aircrafts own batteries caught fire.