Final Rule: PHMSA Restricts E-Cigs on Airplanes

Posted on 5/19/2016 by Roger Marks

The US DOT posted a Final Rule to today’s Federal Register to prohibit electronic smoking devices (“vape pens,” e-cigs, e-hookahs, e-pipes, etc.) in checked baggage aboard an airplane. The Rule also prohibits charging e-cigs while on a plane. Electronic “smoking” or “vaping” devices will still be allowed in carry-on baggage. The Final Rule is consistent with an Interrim Final Rule (IFR) PHMSA posted back in October 2015.

The unique hazards of lithium batteries in air transport are well known and have been a central focus of hazardous materials rulemakings for years. In emergency incidents and testing by industry and the US DOT, lithium-ion batteries have shown the potential to enter “thermal runaway”—simply put, they get hotter and hotter until they get set on fire. The fires resulting from lithium battery incidents are so intense that they can overwhelm the fire suppression systems on airplanes, according to Boeing. 

e-cig prohibition due to lithium batteries

New IATA Lithium Battery Air Rules Now Mandatory

In a rare move this year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) directly adopted new restrictions on lithium batteries shipped by air into the 57th Edition Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). Effective April 1, 2016, the new requirements reflected emergency provisions recommended by the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization and included:

  • Restricting state-of-charge (SoC) for lithium-ion batteries shipped by air to 30%,
  • Setting strict limits on the number of packaged allowed per shipment, and
  • Prohibiting lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.
On April 7, 2016, the US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a Safety Advisory Notice for individuals who prepare lithium battery shipments for transportation.

Subscribe to Lion News for the latest updates on lithium battery transport regulations for shipments in and out of the US.  

Shipping Lithium Batteries Webinar – June 14

Don’t let new rules short-circuit your shipping operations. Get up to speed with the latest rules for shipping lithium batteries—including new restrictions for air shipments and the latest US DOT requirements at the Shipping Lithium Batteries Webinar on June 14, led by an expert, full-time Lion hazmat instructor.

Can’t attend live? Satisfy DOT’s 3-year training requirement for lithium battery shippers 24/7 at! With the Shipping Lithium Batteries Online Course, you won’t lose your place if you get pulled away at work. Flexible access lets you stop and start as needed to fit your schedule, and interactive exercises and knowledge checks make training at an engaging learning experience. 

Tags: batteries, lithium, new rules, US DOT

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