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Update on Lithium Batteries as Cargo

The ICAO Council confirmed the recommendation of the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC) that prohibits, on an interim basis, lithium ion batteries (UN 3480, PI 965 only) as cargo on passenger aircraft, effective 1 April 2016.

Following discussions at the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) meeting in October 2015 on the risk posed by “bulk” shipments of lithium ion batteries, the DGP recommended changes to the provisions applicable to the carriage as cargo of lithium ion batteries (UN 3480, packing instruction 965) and to lithium metal batteries (UN 3090, packing instruction 968, Section II).

The ANC had been requested by the Council to further review the allowance for lithium ion batteries to be carried as cargo on passenger aircraft to determine if the mitigation measures developed by the DGP were adequate.

On 27 January the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC) recommended that lithium ion batteries, UN 3480, Packing Instruction 965 only, be forbidden for carriage as cargo on passenger aircraft. The recommended prohibition does not apply to lithium ion batteries packed with equipment or lithium ion batteries contained in equipment, UN 3481, Packing Instruction 966 and Packing Instruction 967.

The Council endorsed the ANC’s recommendation to prohibit the carriage of UN 3480 on passenger aircraft. This prohibition is effective 1 April 2016.

The complete addendum is available from the DGR documentation page.

Changes to the Provisions for Lithium Batteries - Effective 1 April 2016

UN 3480, PI 965, Section IA and IB

Lithium ion cells and batteries must be offered for transport at a State of Charge (SoC) not to exceed 30% of their rated design capacity. Cells and/or batteries at a SoC of greater than 30% of their rated capacity may only be shipped with the approval of the State of Origin and the State of the Operator under the written conditions established by those authorities.
Notes:
(a) UN 3480, PI 965, Section IA and IB will be restricted to carriage on cargo aircraft. All packages must bear the Cargo Aircraft Only label in addition to the other marks and labels required by the Regulations.
(b) Guidance and methodology for determining the rated capacity can be found in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, 5th Revised Edition, Amend. 1 and Amend. 2, Section 38.3.2.3. 

UN 3480, PI 965, Section II

Lithium ion cells and batteries must be offered for transport at a state of charge (SoC) not to exceed 30% of their rated design capacity. A shipper is not permitted to present for transport more than one (1) package prepared according to Section II in any single consignment. 

Not more than one (1) package prepared in accordance with Section II of PI 965 may be placed into an overpack. When the package is placed in an overpack, the lithium battery handling label required by this packing instruction must either be clearly visible or the label must be affixed on the outside of the overpack and the overpack must be marked with the word “Overpack”.
Note:
All packages prepared in accordance with Section II of PI 965 will be restricted to carriage on cargo aircraft. All packages must bear the Cargo Aircraft Only label in addition to the other marks and labels required by the Regulations. 

UN 3090, PI 968, Section II

A shipper is not permitted to present for transport more than one (1) package prepared according to Section II in any single consignment.
Not more than one (1) package prepared in accordance with Section II of PI 968 may be placed into an overpack. When the package is placed in an overpack, the lithium battery handling label required by this packing instruction must either be clearly visible or the label must be affixed on the outside of the overpack and the overpack must be marked with the word “Overpack”. 

Packaging

Packages prepared according to Section II of PI 965 and PI 968 must be offered to the operator separately from other cargo and must not be loaded into a unit load device (ULD) before being offered to the operator. 

Small Self-Balancing Vehicles (Hoverboards)

Separately from the discussions at the ICAO DGP there have also been discussions with airline members and regulatory authorities with respect to the classification of small self-balancing vehicles, commonly referred to as “hoverboards”.  

Carriage as Cargo

These small lithium battery-powered devices meet the regulatory definition of a “vehicle” as set out in Special Provision A21 in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), and as they are powered by a lithium ion battery then the correct classification for these small vehicles is UN 3171, Battery-powered vehicle and therefore they must be packed in accordance with Packing instruction 952. 
Important considerations:
  • The assignment to UN 3171 does not provide for any exception from the full application of the Regulations, i.e. there is no exception for vehicles that contain lithium ion batteries that do not exceed 100 Wh. 
  • The net quantity required on the Shipper’s Declaration for UN 3171 is the net weight of the complete vehicle. There is no limit on the weight of a lithium ion battery in a vehicle or in a package and there is no net quantity difference between passenger aircraft and Cargo Aircraft Only.
  • If the lithium ion battery is removed from the vehicle and packed separate from the vehicle in the same outer packaging, then the classification becomes UN 3481, Lithium ion batteries packed with equipment and Packing Instruction 966 applies.  

Recommendations

In locations where these devices are readily available and being consigned as cargo, operators should engage with freight forwarders and their cargo ground service provider to clarify the classification of these small vehicles and the additional considerations that apply. Forwarders should be encouraged to reach out to shippers of these products to ensure that the shippers are made aware of the classification requirement as UN 3171.  

Need more information?

Please contact dangood@iata.org for more information 
More information on the transport of Lithium Batteries by air​

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