Airline Passengers | Flying With Lithium Batteries

Airline Passengers | Flying With Lithium Batteries

 

Lithium Batteries on Planes

All portable electronic devices (PEDs) containing lithium batteries, and spare lithium batteries carried on planes are subject to dangerous goods regulations to ensure that they do not pose a hazard to aircraft (such as a fire in the passenger cabin or fire in the aircraft cargo compartments).

 

Lithium batteries, which power everyday devices, can catch fire if damaged or if battery terminals are short-circuited.

If lithium batteries are shipped by air, it is classified as dangerous goods class 9.

 

Lithium Batteries Definition

Lithium Battery – a family of batteries with different chemistries, comprising many types of cathodes and electrolytes. Lithium batteries fall into two broad classifications; lithium metal batteries and lithium-ion batteries.

1- Lithium metal batteries (including lithium alloy batteries)

Non-rechargeable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode.

Lithium metal batteries are generally used to power devices such as cameras, watches, defibrillators, etc.

 

Also, you need to know about the term “cell” which means a single encased electrochemical unit (one positive and one negative electrode) that exhibits a voltage differential across its two terminals. If more than one cell is electronically connected called a lithium battery.

This means a single cell battery is considered a cell and not a battery for the limitations set out in the Dangerous goods regulations.

Another term is used, a button cell battery - a small round cell where the overall height is less than the diameter. Button cells are often referred to as “coin” cells.

 

2- Lithium-ion batteries (including lithium polymer batteries)

Li-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries where the lithium is only present in an ionic form in the electrolyte.

Lithium-ion batteries are generally used to power devices such as e-bikes, laptop computers, mobile telephones, power tools, etc.

 

Why lithium-ion battery is best?

Lithium-ion battery technology is superior to traditional battery technology due to its reliability and efficiency. For example, from the point of view of comparison, lithium-ion batteries are characterized by the following:

1- Faster charging

2- Longer lasting energy

3- Higher energy density

That's why these features make up a long life for lithium-ion batteries in a lighter package compared to conventional battery technology.

When you know how lithium-ion batteries work, they can work better for you.

 

Flying with lithium batteries

Carriage of portable electronic devices (PED), portable medical electronic devices (PMED), and spare batteries by airline passengers are dependent on the Watt-hour (Wh) rating for lithium-ion (rechargeable) batteries or the lithium metal content in grams (g) for lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries.

To understand IATA dangerous goods table 2.3.A regarding flying with lithium batteries either in devices or spare batteries (uninstalled) lithium metal batteries and lithium-ion batteries. You should determine the watt-hour rating for a particular lithium-ion battery. If watt-hour rating is not marked on the lithium battery itself, apply this:

 Ah x V = Wh

Ah = The capacity in ampere-hours (Ah)

= The battery’s nominal voltage

Wh= The watt-hour rating


And, you should know the lithium metal content in grams (g) for lithium metal (non-rechargeable) batteries.

Now, I will list for you what is permitted lithium battery and what is the condition for carriage on the plane.

 

Watt-hour (Wh) rating or lithium metal content

A- lithium batteries with [ ≤ 100 Wh / 2g ]

These lithium batteries can be in the following form:

 

1- In equipment - portable electronic devices (PED) or portable medical electronic devices (PMED).

Carry-on baggage

Checked baggage

Approval of the operator (airline)

Yes

(Max 15 PED/PMED)

Yes

No

 

Note :

 According to IATA dangerous goods regulations, each airline passenger is limited to a maximum of 15 portable electronic devices (PED). The airline may approve more than 15 PED.  

2- Spare battery(ies)

Carry-on baggage

Checked baggage

Approval of the operator (airline)

Yes

(Max 20 spare batteries)

No

No

 

Note :

According to IATA dangerous goods regulations, each airline passenger is limited to a maximum of 20 spare batteries of any type. The operator may approve the carriage of more than 20 batteries.

 

B- lithium batteries with [ >100 to ≤160Wh ]

These lithium batteries can be in the following form:

 

1- In equipment - portable electronic devices (PED) or portable medical electronic devices (PMED).

Carry-on baggage

Checked baggage

Approval of the operator (airline)

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

2- Spare battery(ies)

Carry-on baggage

Checked baggage

Approval of the operator (airline)

Yes

(Max 2 spare batteries)

No

Yes

 

C- lithium batteries with [> 2g ≤ 8g]

These lithium batteries can be in the following form:

 

1- In equipment - portable electronic devices (PED) ONLY.

Carry-on baggage

Checked baggage

Approval of the operator (airline)

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

2- Spare batteries or portable medical electronic devices (PMED).

Carry-on baggage

Checked baggage

Approval of the operator (airline)

Yes

(Max 2 spare batteries)

No

Yes

 

D- lithium batteries with [>160Wh]

Must be prepared as dangerous goods shipment per the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations.

 

Safe traveling by air with lithium batteries 

Devices containing lithium metal batteries or lithium-ion batteries 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.

 

Spare (uninstalled) lithium metal batteries and lithium-ion batteries are prohibited in checked baggage. They must be carried with the passenger in carry-on baggage.

 

Damaged, defective or recalled lithium batteries must not be carried in carry-on or checked baggage.

 

 

 

Summary 

 

Flying with lithium batteries may cause a danger to flight safety. For this reason, flying with lithium batteries must be per IATA table 2.3.A. If fire or smoke happens it can be mitigated by the cabin crew and passengers inside the aircraft cabin.


Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority. We hope you find Aviation Professional website not only informative, but interesting and helpful as well. Leave your comment , thank you.

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