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US bans lithium batteries from flights

The new rules bar commercial airlines from carrying the potentially dangerous hazardous batteries as cargo.

New rules issued by the US Department of Transportation ban airlines from carrying potentially dangerous lithium-ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger planes, the Reuters news agency reports.

The department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration presented the new regulations after Congress ordered the agency last year to complete them.

Similar requirements have been force in other countries since 2016 and larger US carriers already comply voluntarily with rules by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization that came into effect in April 2016.

The new rules in the US also state that cargo aircraft can carry lithium-ion cells and batteries with a state of charge of no more than 30%.

Under certain conditions, lithium batteries can result in smoke or fire, potentially leading to the catastrophic failure of an aircraft, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration.

Mobile phones
In rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, lithium ions move from the negative electrode to positive during use and back again when charging. They are common in portable electronics, especially mobile phones.

But the rules do not restrict passengers or crew from taking personal electronic devices on board into the cabin.

US regulators have identified 39 incidents in air cargo transportation between 2010 and 2016, 13 of them involving lithium batteries and smoke, fire, extreme heat or explosion.

Three accidents in 2007, 2010 and 2011 have been linked to lithium ion batteries transported as cargo. These resulted in the loss of the three planes and four lives.

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