Li-Ion Batteries Prohibited as Cargo on Passenger Aircraft

February 28, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

The 36-State International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Governing Council adopted a new aviation safety measure today which prohibits, on an interim basis, all shipments of Lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.

The Council’s decision will be effective 1 April, 2016. It pertains only to Lithium-ion batteries shipped as cargo on passenger aircraft, and not to those contained in personal electronic devices carried by passengers or crew. It comes subsequent to extensive reviews undertaken by the ICAO Air Navigation Commission, and the UN agency’s Dangerous Goods, Flight Operations, and Airworthiness panels.

The prohibiting of Lithium-ion cargo shipments on passenger aircraft has been eagerly awaited by aircraft manufacturer and pilots associations, which have been the most vocal advocates for the new safety measure.

“Safety is always our most fundamental priority in international civil aviation,” stressed Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, ICAO Council President. “This interim prohibition will continue to be in force as separate work continues through ICAO on a new lithium battery packaging performance standard, currently expected by 2018.”

Subsequent to the announcement by the ICAO Council to prohibit the carriage of lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft, the UN aviation agency issued the following clarifications:

Passenger baggage: 1) Lithium-ion batteries carried by passengers in their personal electronic devices, whether in their carry-on or checked baggage, are not affected by this new restriction. 2) Passengers must not pack spare lithium-ion batteries in checked baggage. Spares must be packed in carry-on baggage or carried on the person.

Baggage shipped by air as cargo: 3) Lithium-ion batteries may no longer be packed in baggage shipped independently as cargo. 5) Lithium-ion batteries in mishandled baggage, or excess passenger baggage shipped as cargo, are permitted so long as they also satisfy the requirements of points 1 and 2 above.

Global versus local government and airline requirements: 5) Passengers should verify local government and airline regulations which are set out in order to ensure full compliance with all applicable requirements specific to their voyage. 6) The new prohibition is not voluntary and must be adhered to by all 191 State parties to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).