Federal agencies Air Transportation

Final rule governs air transport of lithium-ion batteries

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Washington — A final rule from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will regulate the transport of lithium-ion batteries shipped by air.

“The safe transport of lithium batteries by air has been an ongoing concern due to the unique challenges they pose to safety in the air transport environment,” PHMSA says. “Unlike most other hazardous materials, lithium batteries have a dual hazard of chemical and electrical. This combination of hazards, when involved in a fire, has the potential to create a scenario that exceeds the fire suppression capability of an aircraft and lead to a catastrophic failure of the aircraft.”

Published in the Dec. 21 Federal Register and set to take effect Jan. 20, the rule amends federal Hazardous Materials Regulations by:

  • Prohibiting the transport of lithium-ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.
  • Requiring that rechargeable lithium-ion cells and batteries on cargo-only aircraft be at no more than a 30% state of charge “when not packed with or contained in equipment.”
  • Restricting the use of alternative provisions for smaller cell or battery shipments to one package per consignment.

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