Air Shipments of Lithium ion Batteries Are Safe – and Getting Safer

Battery Industry Coalition Has Endorsed Tougher Air Transport Regulations for Lithium Batteries


Washington (December 4, 2014) — Contrary to sensationalized media accounts, the air transport of lithium ion cells and batteries is fundamentally safe. As a result, the battery and electronics industries have an outstanding track record of safely shipping lithium ion batteries. And in 2014, U.S. and international regulations on the air transport of lithium batteries took a giant step forward.

The ongoing and combined efforts by U.S. and international transport authorities, the battery and electronics industries, airline industry and global shipping and transport companies are aimed at strengthening the lithium battery transport regulations and, very importantly, improving compliance and enforcement of existing rules.

Safety is the No. 1 priority for PRBA and our members. PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association leads a coalition that worked for several years with regulators to ensure U.S. regulations governing the air transport of lithium batteries were updated to harmonize with much stricter international regulations. In August 2014, the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration published a final rule on lithium batteries doing just this.

More recently, PRBA has aggressively supported additional regulatory responses to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration tests and videos that have provided dramatic news footage for television networks. Meetings held in the U.S., Canada, Germany and Brazil over the last 10 months produced new lithium battery air transport regulations and proposals, endorsed by PRBA. These include a prohibition on the transport of lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft that takes effect on January 1, 2015. In addition, new restrictions on large shipments of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries aboard passenger and cargo aircraft are being developed.

PRBA has also co-hosted working group meetings to consider revisions of mandatory UN lithium battery testing requirements. All these efforts are continuing, and will enhance safety.
Finally, PRBA for years has voiced its concerns about the importance of enforcement of all these regulations and testing requirements. Improved compliance and robust enforcement are essential to assuring safety. In August, PRBA formally wrote to the International Civil Aviation Organization requesting assistance to address this matter. PRBA has been informed by ICAO that the issue will be addressed at a meeting this year of the Directors General of Civil Aviation, Asia and Pacific Regions.

In short, the battery and electronics industries will continue working with U.S. and international regulators to enhance and improve the safe transport of all types of lithium batteries.
Lithium ion batteries powered the consumer electronics revolution. They are the fuel source for cellular phones, notebooks, tablets and many other consumer-type electronic products. They also are essential to life-saving medical devices, including portable diagnostic equipment, heart monitors and hand-held surgical tools. America’s armed services increasingly rely on lithium ion batteries, from advanced weapons systems to night vision goggles, because of their higher energy density and lighter weight.

The greening of the American economy depends on lithium ion batteries because they play a key role in electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Lithium ion batteries also are essential to combating climate change and in storing electricity produced by intermittent sources of clean energy such as solar and wind power.

PRBA understands that these benefits depend on the safe transport of lithium ion batteries. That’s why safety remains the No. 1 priority for PRBA and our members.



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.