New FAA lithium ion battery rules: Jan. 1, 2008.
The FAA has published new rules for transporting your camcorder & other batteries both as carry-on and as checked baggage. If you’re going to be carrying your own batteries on a flight in 2008 and beyond, it behooves you to read the new guidelines and, if necessary, call the manufacturer— because more than 25 grams of lithium content can get your battery confiscated.
i.e. They may take your $500 160 WH Battery and keep it…
In their new rules (when they actually published these new rules they don’t say- the announcement has no publication date) there are some key specifics:
- You may not pack a spare lithium battery in your checked baggage.
Spare batteries are the batteries you carry separately from the devices they power. When batteries are installed in a device, they are not considered spare batteries.
- You can also bring up to two spare batteries with an aggregate [add up to] equivalent lithium content from 8 up to 25 grams.
The limits are expressed in grams of “equivalent lithium content.” 8 grams of equivalent lithium content is approximately 100 watt-hours. 25 grams is approximately 300 watt-hours.
This would mean that two of the above linked 160 WH batteries may exceed the FAA limits. The TSA could confiscate everything after one “spare” battery and they could keep it. Three batteries is definitely a no-go.
You are NOT able to take a big, spare lithium ion battery in checked baggage.
Small batteries, like those in digital still cameras and cell phones, fall under the 8 gram limit, but are still NOT able to be taken as checked baggage.
The ironic exception to the checked baggage rule is if the batteries are physically connected to or “installed” in a device. So if you check a camcorder with the battery attached, and the total grams of lithium is under 25 grams, you can check that baggage. However, the FAA recommends:
Although you may carry some devices and installed batteries in checked baggage, carrying them in carry-on baggage, when practicable, is preferred. Whether in checked or carry-on baggage, ensure that devices remain switched off, either by built-in switch/trigger locks, by taping the activation switch in the “off” postion, [sic] or by other appropriate measures.
This certainly puts a cramp on you carrying a lot of battery power with you on a flight.
The problem I have with it is, in the belly of the plane, there’s cargo containers that are filled by shipping companies. There’s no regulation that says you couldn’t send 10 of those 160 WH batteries in one box with a cargo carrier- who then puts it on the same damm plane you sit in. Report. Report. Report.
Despite the FAA’s own test results from two years before those news reports that demonstrated that:
Halon extinguishing agent has no effect on fire intensity. Lithium batteries may represent the ultimate hazardous material, especially when shipped in bulk as cargo, with the potential to breach all defenses should they catch fire.
It’s either safe or it’s not.
Carry-on or cargo really makes no difference once a lithium-ion battery starts a compromised chain reaction. No matter what starts it— when lithium-ion batteries go, they burn very hot and push every cell in the same battery to a violent end.
So check your upcoming travel schedule, packing plans, and call the manufacturer if necessary to find out if there has been a recall on your lithium ion batteries, and how many grams of lithium you are carrying in your batteries.