The shipping of lithium batteries, especially by air, is a complex process governed by stringent regulations set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). These regulations are designed to ensure the safe transportation of batteries, mitigating potential risks to aircraft, crew, and the environment. This article delves deep into the intricacies of these regulations, focusing exclusively on the shipping aspect.
1. The Need for Specific Shipping Regulations
Lithium batteries, especially lithium-ion and lithium-metal types, can pose serious risks if they are damaged, short-circuited, or improperly packaged during transit. Incidents can range from minor battery leaks to catastrophic fires on board aircraft. Recognizing these challenges, IATA has established specific guidelines for the safe shipping of these batteries by air.
2. Classification of Lithium Batteries for Shipping
Batteries are classified as “Class 9 Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods” due to the potential hazards they pose during air transport. Devices such as balance wheels, air wheels, solo wheels, mini balance boards, and hoverboards are classified as UN 3171, battery-powered vehicles.
3. Packaging Requirements
- Robust Packaging: Batteries must be packed in strong, rigid packaging that can withstand the rigors of air transport. This packaging must also prevent any short circuits.
- Internal Protection: Batteries should be individually protected to prevent short circuits. This can be achieved using non-conductive dividers or by packaging batteries individually.
4. Labeling and Documentation
- Dangerous Goods Label: Packages containing batteries must be clearly labeled with a “Class 9 Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods” label.
- Lithium Battery Label: Additionally, if they are lithium batteries, they must have a specific “Lithium Battery” label.
- Shipper’s Declaration: Shipments of batteries require a Shipper’s Declaration for Dangerous Goods, detailing the nature and quantity of the batteries being shipped.
5. Size and Quantity Restrictions
- State of Charge: For lithium-ion batteries, the state of charge must not exceed 30% of their rated capacity when shipped.
- Quantity Restrictions: There are limits on the number of batteries that can be shipped in a single package, especially for passenger aircraft. These restrictions vary based on the type and size of the battery.
6. Guidance Material and Training
IATA’s updated Lithium Battery Guidance Document provides a comprehensive overview of the requirements related to the transport of lithium batteries. This includes packing instructions, classifications, exceptions, and prohibitions. Preparation and understanding of the regulations are crucial. IATA offers a training course on Shipping Lithium Batteries by Air, covering identification, packing, marking, labeling, and documentation requirements.
7. Special Provisions and Guidance
- Battery-Powered Cargo Tracking Devices/Data Loggers: The guidance document has been revised to include references to EASA guidance, the revised FAA advisory circular, and the 62nd edition (2021) of the IATA DGR. This document provides information to manufacturers of these active devices, users of the active devices, and operators that must approve the carriage of active devices in cargo.
8. Viabox: Your IATA Certified Shipping Partner
At Viabox, we understand the complexities and challenges of shipping lithium batteries by air. We are proud to announce that we are IATA certified to ship Class 9 batteries. This certification is a testament to our commitment to ensuring the safe and compliant shipping of batteries and other goods for our customers.
Shipping lithium batteries by air requires a deep understanding of IATA’s regulations and safety protocols. By adhering to these guidelines, shippers can ensure the safe and compliant transportation of these batteries, minimizing potential risks. With IATA certified partners like Viabox, customers can be assured that their shipments are in safe and capable hands.