After years of temporary extensions, the House and Senate have agreed on legislation to reauthorize and make improvements to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Among the many provisions in the conference report, Congress intends to curtail the Department of Transportation from creating or enforcing any regulations that restrict the transportation of lithium batteries by air more stringently than existing ICAO regulations. See below.
SEC. 828. AIR TRANSPORTATION OF LITHIUM CELLS AND BATTERIES.
- (a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of Transportation, including a designee of the Secretary, may not issue or enforce any regulation or other requirement regarding the transportation by aircraft of lithium metal cells or batteries or lithium ion cells or batteries, whether transported separately or packed with or contained in equipment, if the requirement is more stringent than the requirements of the ICAO Technical Instructions.
- (b) EXCEPTIONS.—
- (1) PASSENGER CARRYING AIRCRAFT.—Notwithstanding subsection (a), the Secretary may enforce the prohibition on transporting primary (nonrechargeable) lithium batteries and cells aboard passenger carrying aircraft set forth in special provision A100 under section 172.102(c)(2) of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (as in effect on the date of enactment of this Act).
- (2) CREDIBLE REPORTS.—Notwithstanding subsection (a), if the Secretary obtains a credible re port with respect to a safety incident from a national or international governmental regulatory or investigating body that demonstrates that the presence of lithium metal cells or batteries or lithium ion cells or batteries on an aircraft, whether transported separately or packed with or contained in equipment, in accordance with the requirements of the ICAO Technical Instructions, has substantially contributed to the initiation or propagation of an onboard fire, the Secretary—
- (A) may issue and enforce an emergency regulation, more stringent than the require ments of the ICAO Technical Instructions, that governs the transportation by aircraft of such cells or batteries, if that regulation—
- (i) addresses solely deficiencies ref erenced in the report; and
- (ii) is effective for not more than year; and
- (B) may adopt and enforce a permanent regulation, more stringent than the require ments of the ICAO Technical Instructions, that governs the transportation by aircraft of such cells or batteries, if—
- (i) the Secretary bases the regulation upon substantial credible evidence that the otherwise permissible presence of such cells or batteries would substantially contribute to the initiation or propagation of an on board fire;
- (ii) the regulation addresses solely the deficiencies in existing regulations; and
- (iii) the regulation imposes the least disruptive and least expensive variation from existing requirements while adequately addressing identified deficiencies.
According to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, the full House and Senate expect to vote on the measure before the FAA’s current short-term funding extension expieres on February 17.