The International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN aviation watchdog, banned Lithium batteries as cargo from passenger planes. They noted that the batteries can result in strong fires which can destroy the airplanes. The ban is expected to come into effect on April 1.
Rechargeable Lithium batteries, which are used in cellphones, laptops, tablets, gaming devices and cameras, are prone to overheating and bear the risk of causing a serious in-flight fire. Non-rechargeable Lithium batteries are already banned from passengers planes for the same reason.
Tens and thousands of batteries are often carried as cargos on a single plane. The NBC News reported that according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which supports the ban, a single battery has the capacity to trigger off a chain reaction that can cause a “catastrophic hull loss,” a phenomenon which is known as the “thermal runaway.”
The ICAO said that the ban will be active until a fire-resistant packaging design for transporting the batteries can be determined, which is not before 2018, the Verge reported. ICAO has made the provisions mandatory for all its 191 member countries.
The Rechargeable Battery Association, which have been fighting the ban, said that there will be serious disruptions in the logistics supply chain due to the ban, which would significantly affect the supply of medical devices.
The BBC reported that the International Civil Aviation Organisation said aircraft that carry batteries in bulk to the US also carry an estimated 26 million passenger every year.
Although the provisions are not binding on all countries, the US and most other countries have expressed compliance to the decision. Also, besides the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Transportation Department and the National Transportation Safety Board also backed the ban.
The cargo airlines, which tie up with passenger planes to transport batteries to destinations not covered by them, have joined the battery association in opposing the ban.