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The U.S. DOT advises that any spare batteries should be stored in a zip-lock bag or the factory packaging to prevent short-circuits.  (Source: U.S. Department of Transportation)
New rules limit lithium content in batteries carried on aircraft

New rules went into effect today that could affect travelers who carry portable electronics on flights. The new regulations limit the amount of lithium in luggage and carry-on items -- specifically with regards to lithium in batteries.

The new rules state that spare batteries cannot be packed inside checked luggage, but spare batteries can be carried on board in carry-on baggage. Those brave enough to check baggage with electronic devices inside can leave installed batteries in the devices.

The U.S. Department of Transportation does not specify how many batteries are acceptable for travel.  The Department states passengers can carry spare batteries for electronic devices and that the lithium content in all batteries must weigh less than 25 grams.

To help explain the strange equivalent lithium content rule, uses an example dividing the total amount of lithium as Watt-hours. The DOT claims lithium grams is roughly equivalent to 300 Watt-hours of battery time.

The popular Dell XPS m1330 notebook uses several different batteries. The 9-cell batteries, the largest available for the system, are rated at 85 Watt-hours. That would mean a pair of spare batteries for the notebook (170 Watt-hours) are well within the 25 gram (300 Watt-hours) total aggregate lithium content.   However, a passenger can only care the installed 9-cell battery with two spares before exceeding the 25g limit.

Devices that use lithium-metal batteries have a limit of two grams of lithium-metal per battery and according to almost all lithium-metal batteries used in consumer devices comply with that limit. However, devices with lithium metal-batteries over the two gram limit are barred from the aircraft entirely.

These new rules are due to the potential fire hazard posed by rechargeable lithium batteries. The massive recalls and wide spread reports of fires resulting from laptop batteries resulting in the massive battery recalls of 2007 sparked the new battery policies now in effect.

However, the FAA is very clear on why such strict limits must be imposed.  In a statement released yesterday, the Administration stated, "Safety testing conducted by the FAA found that current aircraft cargo fire suppression system would not be capable of suppressing a fire if a shipment of non-rechargeable lithium batteries were ignited in flight."

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RE: Anyone find this stupid?
By eye smite on 1/1/2008 7:51:37 PM , Rating: 1
Sure it's stupid, and I can't think of many FAA mandates that don't seem stupid. I'm willing to bet though that this over cautious behaviour is probably why you don't see very many plane crashes each year.

RE: Anyone find this stupid?
By Christopher1 on 1/1/2008 8:00:52 PM , Rating: 1
No, the reason that you don't see very many plane crashes yearly is because plane maintenance people are very good at their work, there is so much redundency on planes (some can fly with only one engine working), etc.

Not because of thse stupid rules.

The only thing that this overcaution does is make people just ignore the really important and sane rules because they figure the TSA and FAA puts out so many stupid rules that all of them must be stupid.

By AlexandertheBlue on 1/1/2008 9:07:29 PM , Rating: 3
You are only partly right. Some of those "stupid rules" are why there are redundant systems.

RE: Anyone find this stupid?
By Keeir on 1/2/2008 12:31:10 AM , Rating: 2
Really? I can think of many FAA mandates and Airworthiness Directives that are not stupid. The thing to keep in mind with FAA mandates for Large Commercial Transports is that most of the aircraft are intended to last for 50,000-75,000 flight cycles. -70- years at 3 flights a day. Or 35 years at 6 flights a day.

FAA mandates and rules are ment to govern air travel in the macroscopic sense. Sometimes, these rules are for passenger PR, but most are based on risk assesments that look at riskes to planes flying far longer, far faster, and with a heck of alot more milage that your average automobile.

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