ICAO Agrees to Prohibit Lithium Metal Batteries On Passenger Flights

The much anticipated ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel meeting on Lithium Metal Batteries took place last week in Montreal.  The focus of the meeting was on a proposed prohibition of lithium metal batteries as cargo on Passenger Aircraft.  While you may have heard from other sources that the meeting adopted the proposal early in the week, this was incorrect.  

Due to the importance and the many conflicting parameters in the decision, the process was carefully guided by incoming chair, Ms. Paquette of Canada, assisted by DGP Secretary, Dr. Rooney.  It would have been inappropriate to comment while these discussions were ongoing.   However, we can now bring you up to speed as to what the decision was.

The DGP agreed to adopt a prohibition of lithium metal batteries carried as cargo on passenger aircraft, but this does not include: 

  • those packed with or contained in equipment, or 
  • those carried by passengers in the cabin of the aircraft. 

The report of the meeting should be available on the ICAO website sometime this week.  This decision is expected to be approved by the DGP's parent committee, the Air Navigation  Commission (ANC) at its scheduled meeting later this month.  Please note, the ANC may adopt the DGP's decision but has within its prerogative, the option of amending/extending it.  The actual text of the decision, including associated consequential amendments, can be expected towards the end of May.

Some key points to consider:

Will there be an approvals process, that is, will Special Provision A1 be applied?   The Panel voted to apply A1, but only by a simple majority and it was clear that this is one area where the ANC may adopt the stricter criteria of the Exemptions process.  My recommendation is that industry should look at the implications of these two options very carefully.

Second, the effective date was discussed, albeit very briefly.  Industry made the observation that this represents a substantial change and as yet no text of the requirements is available, therefore, a considerable transition period would be required.  As discussed, the effective date would be January 1, 2015, but this date could be moved up or pushed back depending on the discussion and decisions of the ANC.