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Enhanced Safety Provisions for Lithium Ion Batteries Transported via Air Freight

Staff | M.E. Dey & Co.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued an interim final rule to enhance air safety by amending requirements for shipping lithium ion cells and batteries on passenger and cargo aircraft.

“This rule will strengthen safety for the traveling public by addressing the unique challenges lithium batteries pose in transportation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

The interim final rule:

  • Prohibits the transport of lithium ion cells or batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.
  • Requires lithium ion cells and batteries to be shipped at not more than a 30 percent state of charge aboard cargo-only aircraft when not packed with or contained in equipment.
  • Limits the use of alternative provisions for small lithium cell or battery shipments.
  • Further aligns U.S. transportation regulations specific to lithium batteries with standards prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
  • Does not restrict passengers or crew members from bringing personal items or electronic devices containing lithium batteries aboard aircraft in carry-on or checked baggage.

A limited exception to restrictions is included for not more than two replacement lithium cells or batteries specifically used for medical device on passenger aircraft; when the intended destination of the cells or batteries is not serviced daily.

The interim final rule took effect March 6, and comments on the interim final rule may be submitted until May 6th to the IFR under Docket Number: PHMSA 2016 0014 (HM 224I) at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov

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