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International Civil Aviation Organization Bans Bulk Shipments of Lithium Batteries as Cargo on Passenger Aircraft

On February 22, 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organization (“ICAO”) Council announced an interim ban on bulk shipments of lithium ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.  The ICAO Council adopted this new aviation safety measure after the ICAO’s top technical body, the Air Navigation Commission, recommended a ban on these shipments at its January 27, 2016 meeting.  The approved ban on bulk lithium battery shipments on passenger aircraft becomes effective almost immediately on April 1, 2016.  The ICAO is also implementing other significant changes to the lithium battery rules in its 2017-2018 Edition of the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (“ICAO-TI”). 

The ICAO has not released the details of the ban yet, but according to reports, ICAO’s ban will apply to bulk shipments of lithium ion batteries under Packing Instruction 965 as cargo on passenger aircraft.  Packing Instruction 965 covers lithium ion and lithium polymer cells and batteries packaged alone. The ban will not apply to shipments of lithium ion batteries packed with equipment or contained in equipment, or lithium batteries contained in personal electronic devices carried by passengers or crew.  Packages of lithium batteries subject to the ban will be required to bear the “Cargo Aircraft Only” label.  The ICAO will release additional details regarding the ban.   

The ban on bulk lithium battery shipments as cargo on passenger aircraft, which goes into effect on April 1, 2016, is an interim measure as the ICAO considers improved packaging options for lithium ion batteries.  The ICAO Council President stated, “this interim prohibition will continue to be in force as separate work continues through ICAO on a new lithium battery packaging performance standard, currently expected by 2018.”  Until this new lithium battery packaging standard is established, the ban will remain in effect. 

The ICAO ban reflects growing concerns over the safety of air shipments of lithium batteries and follows a string of developments at the international level and in the United States.

© 2020 Beveridge & Diamond PC


About this Author

Aaron H. Goldberg Hazardous Waste Regulatory Law Attorney Beveridge & Diamond Washington, DC

Aaron applies his decades of experience with hazardous waste regulatory law to help clients comply with the rules, help mold the rules, and defend against allegations of noncompliance.

He holds an advanced degree in chemistry, has extensive training in economics, and is a former consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. His unique, multidisciplinary background—law, science, economics, and government—informs nearly every aspect of his work and makes him a valuable bridge between attorneys, engineers, business managers, consultants, and regulators.

Aaron has...

Elizabeth M. Richardson Attorney, Environmental, Beveridge & Diamond Law Firm

Beth Richardson focuses her practice on environmental transactions and product regulatory issues. She works closely with clients to identify and limit environmental liabilities, effectively market their products, and manage their regulatory obligations. She leads B&D's Transactions & Auditing team and co-leads the firm's Chemicals, Products & Global Supply Chains team.

Timothy M. Serie, Beveridge Diamond, Chemical Product Litigation Lawyer, Compliance Counseling Attorney

Tim Serie focuses his practice on chemical, product, and environmental regulatory matters and litigation.  Prior to joining Beveridge & Diamond, Tim served for four years as counsel at the American Coatings Association (ACA). Highlights of his career with ACA include:

  • Regulatory Advocacy. Representing the paint and coatings industry in the administrative rulemaking process and with respect to agency actions such as: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) Definition of Solid Waste rule, the South Coast Air...

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