Earlier this year, new regulations governing the air shipping of lithium batteries went into effect, and these rules have affected shippers of lithium batteries as well as airline carriers. In response to growing safety concerns with the shipping of lithium-ion batteries, several major aircraft manufacturers and airlines added additional restrictions on the shipping of procedures for lithium batteries on aircraft.
The added restrictions were an outcome of tests conducted on the Halon fire suppression agent by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA). Halon is the fire suppression agent used in passenger aircraft cargo compartments, and FAA test results demonstrated its ineffectiveness to suppress a fire involving large quantities of lithium-ion cells. The consequences of the FAA’s findings led major aircraft manufacturers and airlines to recommend not to ship lithium-ion batteries (UN 3480) as cargo on passenger aircraft until safer methods of transport are established.
Following the twenty-fifth meeting of the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP/25) in Montreal, these provisions are tentatively set to go into effective April 1, 2016. However, they still need an endorsement by the Air Navigation Commission and approval from the ICAO Council. DGP/25 met in October to consider a number of proposals to address safety concerns associated with the carriage of lithium batteries as cargo, including:
a total prohibition on the carriage of lithium-ion batteries (UN 3480) as cargo on passenger aircraft
deletion of Section II of Packing Instructions 965 and 968
restricting the transport of lithium-ion batteries to be at no more than 30% state of charge (SoC)
removing the allowance for packages of lithium ion batteries (UN 3480) prepared according to Section II of PI 965 and lithium metal batteries (UN 3090) prepared according to Section II of PI 968 to be placed in an overpack
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