ICAO proposes 30% lithium battery state charge limit

New safety recommendations covering lithium battery shipments carried on passenger and freighter aircraft have been agreed by the Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
“The proposal to require lithium batteries to have a state of charge of 30% or less, when carried in shipments on commercial aircraft, was felt to be prudent enough to improve aviation safety while a packaging performance standard is being developed,” said Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, the council president of ICAO.
“This recommendation will still permit the rapid and reliable global transit of what has become a vital energy source for people and businesses everywhere in the world.”
Fires in consignments of lithium batteries have been implicated in the loss of three aircraft over the last 10 years.
It is estimated that 5.5bn lithium batteries were produced in 2013, 86% of them lithium ion and the remainder the lithium metal type.
Halon-based aircraft fire suppressant systems will extinguish lithium ion battery fires but are less effective against lithium metal batteries.
Aliu clarified that the DGP’s recommendations must still be reviewed under ICAO’s Air Navigation Commission (ANC), before ultimately being brought before the UN aviation agency’s 36-state council for final assessment and decision. 
“ICAO greatly values the time and effort of all its panel experts in bringing forward these types of recommendations,” he noted.
“The ANC has been requested to prioritise its review of the DGP’s proposed measures and the Council hopes to see a final proposal by early next year.
“This collaborative process does take some time, but in the end it delivers consensus-based and effective long-term safety progress for international civil aviation.”

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