Camera kits

2016 revised IATA Guidelines on air transport of Lithium-ion batteries

The rules have changed and you have to be aware of the limitation for Lithium-ion transport if you are flying ***updated July 2016

The rules have on air travel with Lithium-ion batteries have become much more restrictive recently and you have to be aware of the new limitations. this article has been completely updated with the guidance of IATA in July to help make you aware of these new rules.

IATA Guidelines and FAQs on carrying batteries on aeroplanes Batteries Carried by Airline Passengers has been updated with the 2016 guidelines IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations Addendum II.

Lithium batteries have become the preferred energy source to power a wide variety of consumer goods ranging from mobile phones to children toys to e-bikes and passenger vehicles and though widely used, most people are not aware that lithium batteries are dangerous goods and can pose a safety risk if not prepared in accordance with the transport regulations.  The fire hazard risk of Lithium batteries is such that regulatory change has had far reaching consequences into air travel of equipment containing Lithium-ion batteries.

To help with their compliance requirements, IATA has developed guidance information for shippers, freight forwarders, ground handlers, airlines and passengers which was updated in 2016. ​​

To summarise this document.

There are various classification of lithium-based batteries for transportation purposes into non-rechargeable lithium-metal batteries and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries found in mobile phones, laptops and of course in TV Production equipment. 

Airlines have previously allowed both types as carry-on or checked luggage but recent changes now mean that it is expressly FORBIDDEN to check-in luggage containing Lithium-ion batteries.

Li-ion Batteries installed or carried as spare packs are permitted for carry-on providing they don’t exceed the following limitation of lithium or equivalent content of:

The lithium content of the lithium-metal battery is often printed on the label. Li-ion, on the other hand, has no metallic lithium and uses the equivalent lithium content (ELC) instead.

The Watt hour (Wh) rating should be marked on the battery and all regular CE-approved video batteries have these clearly marked.

Airline Recommendations and VMI Interpretation

IATA Regulations therefore impose a limit for carry-on luggage a maximum of 2 x Lithium-ion batteries exceeding 100Wh and less than 160Wh in capacity.  

Because the Dionic 90 HC battery (91Wh) is actually less capacity than the 100Wh minimum, the regulations do not explicitly limit the number of batteries which are permitted per person as carry-on luggage allowance.  However, the airline use these guidelines to impose their own limit which may limit the number of batteries permitted per person for carry-on luggage.  As such, it may be safe to assume that airlines are likely to err on the side of caution, so you may take the view to treat these batteries as if they had a value of 100Wh.  It makes sense to thoroughly check first with the airline what their imposed limits are.

When researching this article, IATA advised that some countries have more stringent standards than others (for example the Far East has stricter standards than Europe), so if you are travelling world-wide, then check each region separately for specific standards imposed. 

In English, this means 2 x Anton Bauer Dionic 90HC, each with 90Wh Lithium-ion capacity per person (or 2 x BPU-60 batteries, each with 60Wh capacity).  

So, if you have a crew of 3, then you can share your Lithium-ion allowance between you and carry 2 x 90Wh batteries each, or 6 batteries as a crew.

The regulations also state that 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 each battery in a separate plastic bag or protective pouch.  As already mentioned, the state of charge must be as a state of charge (SoC) not exceeding 30% of their rated capacity when sent as cargo (this does not apply when carried as a passenger).

Whilst these are the IATA rules, individual airlines may interpret these differently and impose their own standards and limits on passengers, so you are strongly advised to check their policy on Lithium-ion transportation ahead of travelling.

Freighting Lithium-ion batteries via freight service

It is possible to send Lithium-ion batteries via cargo services but these are prohibited from travelling in a passenger aircraft.

There is stringent legislation about packaging, labelling and documentation but to ship Lithium-ion batteries by air, you will require training from a Civil Aviation Authority approved training provider.

Another solution is to arrange for a 3rd party or freight forwarder to provide this service on an ad-hoc basis for you.  Examples include Dynamic Freight, DHL, UPS, Fedex.  

Shipping Lithium-ion batteries in bulk

Film crews often carry larger batteries for professional cameras, and these are handled as Class 9 hazardous material and a specialised international shipper may be approached to transport these by air.  The advice must be that before you plan to ship any Lithium-ion batteries in bulk, always seek the advice of a specialise freight forwarder.

It is worth mentioning that there are no limits to Lithium-ion battery transportation by road.

Specific VMI Information

Be aware that our regular Anton Bauer Dionic HC battery is 91Wh, so these are permitted in check in but no more than 2 of these in carry-on.  This means that our Anton Bauer 5 way Dionic HC battery kits are not possible for checked-in stowage  but our Anton Bauer 2-way Dionic HC Battery kits are permitted subject to IATA travel regulations.

The regulations clearly state that there is no maximum of Dionic HC 91Wh batteries that can be taken with you as Passenger carry-on, though be aware that differing airlines may interpret the regulations differently and subject to IATA travel regulations.

Also our Anton Bauer VCLX 540Wh 14/28V Cine Batteries are not lithium, so these are not subject to any limitation of air carriage, though they are extremely heavy and the cost of air transit may make transportation uneconomic.

The SWIT V-Lock 4 way power kits which we supply have a way around the restriction of limiting the power of transportable batteries, as smaller batteries can be combined to produce a larger 146Wh battery, which is less than the 150Wh limit.  The restriction ought to apply that 4 of these batteries can be transported per person in hand luggage, provided they are docked to make 2 x 146Wh batteries subject to IATA travel regulations.

The Lightweight BPU-60 double power kit is another travel-friendly battery kit.  Only having 2 batteries, one person is permitted to carry a set alone and this offers typically better power capacity than a regular FS-7 or equivalent battery and has the benefit of providing 2 x D-tap power outputs too.  The lower Wh rating may mean that airlines have greater tolerance to these, since being less than 100Wh, there ought to be no limits of quantities of these batteries carried as hand-luggage, subject to IATA travel regulations 

Information from Anton Bauer and FAA Websites about travelling and shipping batteries

PHMSA - Traveling with Lithium Batteries

FAA - Batteries Carried by Airline Passengers (PDF)

FAA - Pack Safe

FAA - Safety Alert for Operators (PDF)

IATA - Passenger Dangerous Goods Corner

IATA - Lithium Batteries

IATA - Lithium Batteries as Cargo in 2016 (PDF)

For information on transportation of Anton/Bauer batteries, please download and read the detailed technical bulletin.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE TECHNICAL BULLETIN

This document is accurate to the best of our knowledge and written with guidance from IATA but we cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or differing limitations or rules not mentioned.  

Barry Bassett
VMI, July 2016

 

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4 comments
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elizabeth 8 days ago

am I allowed to hand-carry a new light combo with 6x18650 Li-ion batteries (7.4V 7.8AH) still intact with the light packed in box

Barry Bassett 5 months ago

I am told that the 30% charge rule does not apply to batteries carried in the hold. You are allowed to carry a battery affixed to your camera if carried in the hold subject to the limitations mentioned in the article but it would have to be so 30% charge.

Will RIdgeon 6 months ago

Hi, Are you still permitted to send Lithium Ion batteries cargo if they are attached to the equipment - e.g. a v-lock attached to the camera could be checked into hold? Many thanks

LEE 6 months ago

I checked with PAG, and they tell me the 30% charge rule is not applied for hand luggage. (It is a requirement for shipping as cargo). A relief, as I was wondering how we'd all cope arriving to our shoots with hardly any battery power...!

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