UN Agency Moves to Kill Aircraft Battery Exemption

By JOAN LOWY | February 13, 2013

A U.N. agency that sets global aviation safety standards is moving to prevent aircraft batteries like the one that caught fire on a Boeing 787 last month from being shipped as cargo on passenger planes.

People familiar with the panel’s deliberations said late Monday a key International Civil Aviation Organization official has signed off on a proposal to eliminate an exemption that permitted lithium ion aircraft batteries as heavy as 77 pounds to be shipped on passenger planes. All other lithium ion battery shipments are limited to 11 pounds or less because of the batteries’ susceptibility to short-circuit and ignite.

The sources requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The agency’s standards aren’t binding, but are often widely adopted. The U.S. and other governments have grounded the 787s.

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