The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has prohibited shipments of lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft, responding to concerns by pilots and airplane manufacturers that they pose a fire risk.
A 2015 paper published by an aircraft manufacturing trade group found that existing fire-fighting systems on airliners could not â€œsuppress or extinguish a fire involving significant quantities of lithium batteries.â€
The ban, which is mandatory for ICAO member states, will take effect April 1, and will be maintained until a new fire-resistant packaging standard to transport the batteries is designed.
â€œSafety is always our most fundamental priority,â€ said Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, ICAO Council President. â€œThis 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.â€
The ban applies only to lithium-ion batteries shipped as cargo on passenger aircraft, not to those contained in personal electronic devices carried by passengers or crew. Li-ion batteries can still be transported on cargo planes.