PRBA Continues to Play Active Role at International Meetings On Air Transport Safety Standards for Lithium Batteries

Montreal Meeting a Prelude to Ambitious Regulatory Agenda in 2014

PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association  raised numerous battery issues during the recent two-week meeting of the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) in Montreal, where U.S. and international transportation regulators and battery industry leaders convened to consider possible changes to international standards on the air transport of lithium batteries.

“It was an unprecedented and eventful two weeks. PRBA was fully engaged in the meetings. We worked with our allies to submit a number of important proposals on battery issues for discussion. We appreciate the DGP’s interest in PRBA’s proposals addressing the air shipment of lithium batteries and look forward to resolution of these matters next year,” said PRBA Executive Director George Kerchner.

The United Kingdom and PRBA presented separate proposals on shipping damaged or defective lithium batteries. In response, PRBA was asked to prepare a guidance document on shipping damaged or defective lithium batteries for incorporation into the Supplement to the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. The guidance document and PRBA’s proposal will be considered at two ICAO working group meetings early next year. PRBA also introduced a proposal to address the transport of waste lithium batteries, which will be on the agenda for the 2014 meetings.

PRBA, as did Germany, also submitted proposals that would allow the transport of large format lithium ion batteries over 35 kg without an approval from aviation transport authorities if shippers met strict packaging requirements. Large format lithium ion batteries are used in hybrid electric or electric vehicles and also have military and aerospace applications

Finally, the panel addressed the proposal by DGP Secretary Katherine Rooney to ban lithium metal batteries as cargo on both passenger and cargo aircraft. The proposal would not affect lithium metal batteries packed with or contained in electronic equipment.

The panel postponed any decision on lithium metal batteries. Instead, the DGP agreed to organize a multi-disciplinary working group scheduled for the week of Jan. 27, 2014 in Atlantic City, N.J. Working group participants, including DGP members and other safety experts, will address several options that could impose new restrictions on lithium metal batteries shipped by air. During the first week of February 2014, the DGP will hold a working group meeting in Montreal to consider changes to the lithium metal regulations in the ICAO Technical Instructions, based on the recommendations agreed to in Atlantic City. PRBA is working closely with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) on this issue.

“PRBA expects to be extremely busy preparing for the early 2014 meetings and the ongoing discussions about the safe shipment of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries,” Kerchner said.