Last updated: 11:52 AM ET, Tue February 23 2016

UN Bans Lithium Ion Batteries as Cargo on Passenger Flights

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | February 23, 2016

UN Bans Lithium Ion Batteries as Cargo on Passenger Flights

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

On Monday, international aviation regulators announced that shipments of lithium ion batteries on passenger planes would be temporarily banned.

According to Alex Johnson of, the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization announced that rechargeable lithium ion batteries will officially be banned effective April 1 through at least 2018.

Backing the decision to ban the batteries by the United Nations is the United States Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Transportation Department and the National Transportation Safety Board.

READ MORE: FAA Backs Ban On Lithium Batteries On Commercial Flights

The FAA is reporting that one bad battery can cause a chain reaction among other ion batteries—called thermal runaway—resulting in an explosion which could theoretically take down a passenger aircraft.

While non-rechargeable lithium metal batteries have already been banned from cargo holds on passenger flights, the ban has now expanded to the rechargeable versions, like the ones found in cellphones, laptops and cameras. Thankfully, customers will still be permitted to carry their devices with lithium ion batteries, but airlines won’t be able to ship large quantities via passenger airplanes.

READ MORE: Boeing Warns Airlines of Fire Risk from Lithium-Ion Battery Shipments

The ban from the International Civil Aviation Organization does not apply to cargo-only airlines, but not everyone is happy about the decision, as the Rechargeable Battery Association strongly opposes the recent decision.

The Rechargeable Battery Association is backing a measure in the U.S. House of Representatives meant to put stricter rules and regulations on the shipment of lithium ion batteries, not completely ban them on passenger flights.

Some cargo-shipping airlines also oppose the ban, since many have contracts with passenger airlines to transport cargo to destinations they do not cover.


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