United States has banned shipment of Lithium batteries as cargo on passenger flights.
Announced on Wednesday, the new rule from the US DoT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in coordination with the FAA is an “interim final rule” revising hazardous materials regulations for lithium-ion cells and batteries transported by aircraft.
The rule change prohibits the transport of the batteries as cargo on a passenger aircraft outright. In cases where it is being transported in a cargo-only aircraft, lithium-ion cells and batteries are to only be charged to a maximum of 30 percent of its capacity.
While the rule change applies to cargo, it does not apply to devices being carried or used by passengers in the main cabin, or stored with luggage in the hold. At most, the lack of the batteries as fully charged cargo aboard a passenger-based craft will in theory improve safety for those on the flight, by there being fewer batteries being transported.
US Secretary for Transport Elaine L. Chao said,
“This rule will strengthen safety for the traveling public by addressing the unique challenges lithium batteries pose in transportation.”
The FAA’s current fact sheet suggests that these batteries should be carried in the passenger area and not checked, though it doesn’t go as far as banning them outright:
Devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries, including – but not limited to – smartphones, tablets, and laptops, should be kept in carry-on baggage. If these devices are packed in checked baggage, they should be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation and packed so they are protected from damage.
The rule won’t affect current guidance that allows electronic devices in the passenger cabin of planes, only codifying the guidance already in place by the U.N. authority under U.S. regulation.
39 incidents were reported to relating to air cargo transportation between 2010 and 2013, 13 of which involved lithium batteries that smoked, overheated, exploded, or caught fire, which could have been prevented under the new rules. The FAA also noted three incidents between 2007 and 2011 involving lithium-ion batteries in cargo, with the batteries determined to be either the cause or a major factor in making an on-board fire severe enough to cause the loss of three aircraft and the deaths of four people.
Source: Digital Journal
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