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PRBA to Participate In ICAO Meeting to Address Lithium Battery Air Transport Regulations

Battery Industry Addressing Transportation Safety Issues on Multiple Fronts  

Washington (April 24, 2015) – PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association Executive Director George Kerchner will attend the April 27 – May 1 meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization Dangerous Goods Panel Working Group, which is expected to consider new restrictions on the air transport of lithium batteries.

“We are looking forward to this much-anticipated international meeting in Montreal. It brings together regulators and representatives from the global battery industry, airlines and aircraft manufacturers for a wide-ranging discussion on transportation policy,” Kerchner said.

“The safe transportation of lithium ion cells and batteries remains the highest priority for PRBA and its members. We hope to play a constructive role at this ICAO meeting and expect to address a number of safety issues,” Kerchner added.

PRBA submitted several papers for the Working Group meeting. In response to the International Air Transport Association proposal to place new restrictions on overpacks, or bulk shipments, of excepted lithium cells and batteries, PRBA responded with a Working Paper requesting ICAO to consider whether these new restrictions should be applied to small lithium metal button cells, and batteries designed exclusively for medical devices.

The ICAO agenda also includes a Working Paper from the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations, which represents aircraft manufacturers. ICCAIA’s paper has recommendations for new restrictions on the transport of lithium ion batteries, including a ban on bulk shipments of batteries on passenger planes until new packaging standards are developed. Several airlines recently have announced a prohibition on the transport of lithium ion batteries on both passenger and cargo aircraft. However, the airlines’ new restrictions do not impact the carriage of lithium ion batteries packed with or contained in products and equipment.

PRBA filed an Information Paper in response to ICCAIA’s recommendations that included data on lithium ion cell production, a summary of changes to the lithium ion battery regulations in the ICAO Technical Instructions over the last 15 years and an offer to work with ICCAIA to address their safety concern.

PRBA has also prepared a technical paper for the meeting in response to an ICAO recommendation that lithium ion cells be limited to 30% state of charge during transport.

The ICAO meeting is one of several important international events for the lithium battery industry in 2015. An Informal Meeting in association with the UN Sub-Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods has been scheduled for late August at PRBA’s offices in Washington, D.C. This meeting will consider and likely approve formal proposals for modifying existing lithium battery tests in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria. At a related Informal Meeting in Brussels in late March, participants discussed numerous changes to the UN lithium battery tests but no proposals were adopted.

In Washington, Congress is expected to consider a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that could include provisions on lithium batteries. PRBA endorsed the 2012 FAA reauthorization, especially language that strengthened safety standards for the air transport of lithium batteries by directing the U.S. Department of Transportation to harmonize its lithium battery air transport rules with the more stringent requirements contained in the ICAO Technical Instructions.

About PRBA
PRBA members power the consumer electronics revolution. We deliver a safe, efficient, and essential power source for portable electronic equipment such as notebook computers, tablets, cellular phones and power tools, medical devices as well as hybrid and electric vehicles and containerized lithium ion battery stationary systems. PRBA members produce approximately 70 percent of the world’s lithium ion cells and account for billions of dollars in annual worldwide sales. With more than 70 members, PRBA is widely recognized as the nation’s authoritative source for information on rechargeable batteries.