FAA Proposes Largest Ever Civil Penalty Involving Improper Shipment of Lithium Ion Batteries

The $1.1 million penalty results from multiple violations by Braille Battery

FAA Proposes Largest Ever Civil Penalty Involving Improper Shipment of Lithium Ion Batteries
Image: Pixabay
December 11, 2017

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed a $1.1 million civil penalty against Braille Battery, Inc. for allegedly violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations.

This is the largest civil penalty the FAA has ever proposed for alleged violations of the requirements for offering an air shipment of lithium batteries.

The FAA previously assessed an $8,000 civil penalty against Braille in 2013 for shipping undeclared lithium ion batteries.

Batteries did not meet standards

According to FAA allegations, on June 1, 2016 Braille offered four shipments to FedEx for transportation by air—each containing a 24-volt lithium ion battery. After being transported on an aircraft, one of the batteries apparently caught fire while it was being transported on a FedEx truck, resulting in the destruction of the vehicle.

The FAA alleges that the lithium batteries in these shipments did not meet testing standards contained in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria or the U.S. Hazardous Material Regulations, were not equipped with a means of preventing dangerous reverse current flow, and were not in a proper condition for shipment.

The FAA further alleges that Braille failed to provide its employees with required hazardous materials training.

FAA Warning

On June 8, 2016, the FAA informed Braille about the concerns in its training program. On June 14 and June 15, 2016, the FAA notified Braille that the Hazardous Materials Regulations and the ICAO Technical Instructions prohibit the shipment of lithium ion batteries that are not proven to meet the UN testing standards.

Violations Continued

Despite the FAA's warning, Braille continued to offer shipments of these lithium ion batteries for air transportation on 14 separate occasions between July 14, 2016 and August 3, 2016. The shipments included a total of 77 batteries. Each shipment contained between one and 27 batteries, according to FAA allegations.

"Improperly shipped hazardous material can pose serious threats to aircraft and the people on board," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "Adhering to the Hazardous Materials Regulations is critical to ensuring safety."

Braille has 30 days after receiving the FAA's enforcement letter to respond to the agency.