Airline Regulations Regarding Flying with LiPo Batteries

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LiPo batteries (Lithium Polymer) are delicate. In fact, they can be downright dangerous when handled incorrectly, as they can combust when they’re overcharged, short-circuited, and sometimes even if you just look at them a little funny. This makes them a nightmare when it comes to shipping via aircraft. That’s why the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has just announced updated regulations with regards to shipping LiPo batteries.

 

 

Checked Baggage vs. Hand Luggage

Did you know that over 32,000 mAh capacity is not allowed on board?

  • Rechargeable battery such as power banks are considered as spare battery, local regulations may apply.
  • Spare lithium battery is not allowed on check-in baggage.
  • Never carry damaged or recalled batteries on aircraft.
  • Battery must be installed on equipment when checked-in.
lithium-battery on plane
lithium-battery on plane

 

New Regulations, Increasing Prices of LiPo Batteries

The new regulations will become effective by April 1st, 2016 and look to tighten the current rules quite significantly—across a much broader spectrum:

  • All international shipments of lithium batteries are prohibited as cargo on passenger aircraft.

This doesn’t apply to batteries in, or as part of, items of equipment. It applies to individual batteries. In other words, it will affect the way that you order spare batteries from your chosen retailer. From here on in, it is prohibited to send these batteries without following a strict procedure (which involves a lot of labelling, and a lot tighter control on how the batteries are packaged).

 

 

Currently, a lot of retailers just pack a battery in a sleeve and ship it. Those parcels will then be handled like any other, being transported by a passenger plane headed towards the desired destination. The new regulations will put an end to this, and it’s reasonable to conclude that the cost of Lithium batteries will increase as a result. After all, shipping by cargo aircraft isn’t cheap—and there’ll be a lot more to the process, too.

 

For reference, check out these UPS international lithium battery regulations.

Related links:

IATA 2016 regulation PDF

FAA Battery regulation PDF