Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu October 15 2015

FAA Warns Passengers: Keep Lithium Batteries Off Planes

Impacting Travel | Rich Thomaselli | October 15, 2015

FAA Warns Passengers: Keep Lithium Batteries Off Planes

PHOTO: An FAA-produced video shows the disastrous effects of a lithium battery fire. (Via YouTube)

The Federal Aviation Administration is urging U.S. airlines to warn its passengers against packing lithium ion batteries – used for computers, cell phones, toothbrushes and more – in their carry-on and checked luggage.

“Lithium batteries present a risk of both igniting and fueling fires in aircraft cargo/baggage compartments. To reduce the risk of lithium battery fires, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), and equivalent International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods (ICAO TI), prohibit spare lithium batteries from checked baggage (including baggage checked at the gate or on-board the aircraft),” the FAA wrote.

After conducting its own tests that showed even a small number of overheating rechargeable lithium batteries can emit gases that can cause explosions and fires on aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed a ban last week on shipping the batteries as cargo on commercial airlines.

"We believe the risk is immediate and urgent," Angela Stubblefield, a Federal Aviation Administration hazardous materials official, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press at a public meeting last week.

The lithium batteries are often shipped by the thousands.

Boeing and Airbus already sent airlines a service bulletin earlier this year, calling the batteries an "unacceptable risk" and citing the FAA’s own tests.

As the AP noted, more than a dozen airlines stopped accepting battery shipments in the cargo hold of commercial jets.


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