FAA Ban On Lithium Batteries – What’s The Point?


Ban on lithium batteries in checked baggeges

To help reduce the risk of fires, air travelers will no longer be able to pack loose lithium batteries in checked luggage beginning Jan. 1, the US Transportation Department said Friday.

Bag under x-ray

Illustration: Bag under X-ray

Passengers can still check baggage with lithium batteries if they are installed in electronic devices, such as cameras, cell phones and laptop computers. If packed in plastic bags, batteries may be in carryon baggage. The limit is two batteries per passenger. The ban affects shipments of non-rechargeable lithium batteries, such as those made by Energizer Holdings Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co’s Duracell brand.

“Doing something as simple as keeping a spare battery in its original retail packaging or a plastic zip-lock bag will prevent unintentional short-circuiting and fires,” Krista Edwards, deputy administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said in a release.

The Federal Aviation Administration has found that fire-protection systems in the cargo hold of passenger planes can’t put out fires sparked in lithium batteries. The National Transportation Safety Board earlier this month said it could not rule out lithium batteries as the source of a cargo plane fire at Philadelphia International Airport last year.

What is the point?

Taking a look at the ruleit turns out that there are many illogical parts in it. Just to mention some:

– there are lithium and lithium ion batteries, the regulation affects only the lithium ones.

– 2 batteries carry around the same volume of risk as 4 or 8 batteries.

– no, a zipped plastic bag does not protect anything from catching fire in case of a spark

– there is a much higher risk of explosion when these batteries are under usage or charging and it is allowed to charge or use your laptop for example during the flight.

– the regulation affects planes leaving from the US. But if you fly to Europe you can carry as many batteries as you want on your return journey.

So what is the real intention behind this regulation? Well, my idea is that besides causing more troubles to passengers just because authorities do not have tools to filter out the bad guys from the mass, the problem they needed solution for is that they were afraid that any bombs or explosives can be launched with the use of a series of batteries. That is why they limited it to 2 per passenger. Will it protect us? We’ll never be able to tell.

By Szafi
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