ICAO Decision Temporarily Restricts Carriage of Lithium Ion Aircraft Batteries as Cargo on Passenger Aircraft

MONTRÉAL, 13 February 2013 – Pending the outcomes of investigations now being carried out in the United States and Japan, the President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has provisionally approved an interim amendment that will prohibit the carriage of lithium ion aircraft batteries as cargo on passenger planes. Final approval of the amendment from the ICAO Council is expected when it returns to Session later this month.


The new amendment will rescind ICAO’s recent inclusion of lithium ion aircraft batteries up to 35kg in Special Provision A51 to the UN aviation body’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. Special Provision A51 is designed to provide airlines with the operational flexibility to transport aircraft batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft in special circumstances. The inclusion of lithium ion aircraft batteries in A51 had only become effective on 1 January 2013.


“This amendment to Special Provision A51 is a temporary measure, taken to ensure that safety considerations remain paramount while the related investigations in the United States and Japan remain ongoing,” stressed ICAO Council President, Roberto Kobeh González. “Safety is the number one priority of the aviation community and we are very confident that this situation will eventually be resolved in a manner that further supports air transport’s admirable safety performance while addressing the concerns of all stakeholders impacted by these events.”


The ICAO decision comes on the heels of the grounding of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner fleet by the U.S. and Japan more than three weeks ago, after a battery caught fire in a plane parked in Boston and a 787 with a smoking battery was forced to make an emergency landing at Takamatsu airport in western Japan.


ICAO stressed that the new amendment does not affect the carriage of other aircraft battery types on passenger planes under A51, nor will it place additional restrictions on lithium ion aircraft batteries being carried as cargo on cargo aircraft. Similarly, it will have no impact on the extensive requirements in the ICAO Technical Instructions governing the carriage of other types of lithium ion batteries.

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