Over the next five years, Qatar Airways Cargo intends to replace its entire fleet of more than 10,000 Unit Load Devices (ULDs) with Safran Cabin’s new Fire Resistant Container (FRC), aiming to exchange 70% of the units during 2022.
The cargo airline’s decision to invest in the FRCs stems from the airline’s vested interest in preventing safety issues related to the increased risk posed by lithium battery shipments. This concern was recently raised by Guillaume Halleux, chief officer for cargo at Qatar Airways, in a keynote presentation to the air cargo industry at IATA’s World Cargo Symposium in Dublin.
“Due to the increased transport of devices with lithium-ion batteries in ULDs, we were looking for a solution that prevents incidents in containers used for the handling and storage of baggage, as well as the transportation of cargo goods. Thorough testing has validated the absolute fire resistance of Safran Cabin’s new FRC containers, and we are very pleased to roll out this solution in our belly-hold fleet within such a short period of time,” stated Halleux.
It was rising concerns amongst airlines about the safe transportation of lithium-ion batteries and related goods such as smartphones, that prompted Safran Cabin to extend its product range with a Class-D fire-resistant container, complementing its existing products which guard against Class-A fires (ordinary combustibles, such as paper and cardboard). Safran Cabin began developing the FRCs in late 2019, designing them to resist a lithium-based fire for six hours, and are equipped with a SEN (secure, ergonomic and non-Velcro) door made of highly impact-resistant materials.