The ICAO Council has approved a new amendment addressing international instructions on the carriage of active small lithium battery powered electronic devices in checked baggage.

Based on the revised requirement, devices powered by small lithium batteries in checked baggage can stay turned on during the flight, provided their lithium metal battery’s lithium content is less than 0.3 grams, or if its lithium ion battery’s output is less than 2.7 Wh.

For devices with lithium batteries that exceed the above limits, the obligation to turn them off in checked baggage remains.

The Council Decision follows on recommendations from the Air Navigation Commission and its Dangerous Goods Panel, which had advised that restrictions were unnecessary for such small lithium batteries and cells.

Fire risk

Because lithium-ion (and lithium metal) batteries can cause fires if not handled appropriately, international rules require them to be carried in the cabin in carry-on baggage. 

According to the CAA website: “Poorly manufactured, faulty and misused lithium batteries and those which have not been protected against short circuit can experience something called ‘thermal runaway’.

“This results in them getting so hot that they can catch fire, explode and ignite other nearby batteries. If that were to happen on the flight deck it could significantly disrupt the operation of the aircraft and cause serious injury to flight crew.

“Similarly, if such an event occurred in the passenger cabin it could cause serious injury to a passenger or crew member. Accordingly, Controlled portable electronic devices (C-PEDs) are subject to safety design and operational standards.”


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) website states: “Spare batteries must be individually protected to prevent short circuits by placement in the original retail packaging or by otherwise insulating terminals, e.g. by taping over exposed terminals or placing each battery in a separate plastic bag or protective pouch and carried in carry-on baggage only.

“Articles containing lithium cells or batteries, the primary purpose of which is to provide power to another device, e.g. power banks, are considered as spare batteries and are restricted to carry-on baggage only.”
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