Wednesday, the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration has issued new rules to protect air passengers from the potential dangers of lithium ion batteries. The new provisional final rule prohibits lithium ion cells and batteries in the cargo area of passenger aircraft. The rule also sets new guidelines for lithium-ion batteries that travel in planes carrying goods, specifying that they do not exceed a state of charge of 30%.
"This rule will enhance passenger safety by addressing the unique challenges posed by lithium batteries in the transportation sector," US Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said of the new rule.
In 2016, the US International Civil Aviation Authority put in place similar restrictions for all member countries to prevent the risk of bilge fires during flight. The rule will not affect current directives allowing electronic devices in the passenger cabin of aircraft, it will only codify the directives already in place by the US authority under US regulations.
According to the current FAA data sheet, these batteries should be transported in the passenger area and not checked, even if it does not go as far as prohibiting them outright:
Devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries, including, but not limited to, smartphones, tablets and laptops, should be kept in carry-on baggage. If these devices are packed in checked baggage, you must turn them off completely, protect them from accidental activation and pack them in a manner to prevent damage.
Although passengers are not required to change their behavior under the new regulations, consumers may notice that batteries and chargers delivered to them may arrive without a full charge.