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Since 1987 taking the danger out of dangerous goods

As technology advances and new types of dangerous goods are shipped, the measures that must be taken to prevent risks evolve, and so do the regulations. That is why, for example, the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) are updated every year.

However, sometimes some measures cannot wait until next January to be applied. This is the case of the recent restrictions approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on certain lithium batteries shipments. The risks of lithium batteries catching fire during transport cannot be ignored and several provisions have been modified to exercise a greater degree of caution. New addenda have been published in order to add these changes, which come into effect on April 1st 2016, to the ICAO's Technical Instructions and the IATA DGR.

Regulatory changes for lithium batteries air shipments (April 2016)



Starting on April 1st:

  • Lithium ion batteries (UN 3480) that fall under Sections IA & IB of the Packing Instruction 965 are forbidden on passenger carrying aircraft. They can still be shipped on cargo aircraft. All packages prepared under these provisions must now display the Cargo Aircraft Only label (CAO), in addition to all other marks and labels as required by the regulations.
  • Section II lithium ion batteries, as outlined in packing instruction 965, are also forbidden on passenger carrying aircraft and must bear the CAO label in all cases. Additionally, a shipper is not permitted to offer for transport more than one package prepared according to section II in any single consignment, and only one package may be placed in an overpack. When using an overpack, the CAO label must be visible on the outside of the overpack, and the word "OVERPACK" must be marked on the outside of the box.
  • The limit of one package per consignment or overpack is also applied to lithium metal batteries (UN 3090) packed under section II of packing instruction 968.
  • In order to prevent risks associated with a greater charge, all lithium ion cells and batteries under packing instruction 965 must be offered for transport at a state of charge not exceeding 30% of their rated design capacity. Those which meet the requirements for Sections IA or IB may be shipped at a state of charge greater than 30%, with the approval of the State of Origin and the State of the Operator, under the written conditions established by the authorities.
  • Also, lithium ion batteries (UN 3480) and lithium metal batteries (UN 3090) meeting the requirements of section II of their respective packing instructions (965 and 968), which are not subject to other requirements except those explicitly mentioned in the packing instructions, are now subject to the provisions regarding the loading of cargo aircraft.
  • The special provision A201 is now also applied to UN 3480 and therefore has been revised to include lithium ion batteries. It allows States to grant an exemption from the prohibition to transport lithium metal or lithium ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft. Guidance for the processing of exemptions may be found in Part S-1, Chapter 4 of the ICAO Supplement to the Technical Instructions, which has also been amended accordingly.

The new restrictions do not apply to UN 3481, lithium ion batteries packed with equipment (packing instruction 966) or lithium ion batteries contained in equipment (packing instruction 967).


Article written in collaboration with Tom Rhodes from DGM Atlanta.

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