UN Agency Bans Lithium Batteries as Cargo on Passenger Planes

Over the fierce opposition of lobbyists for rechargeable batteries, international aviation regulators Monday temporarily banned cargo shipments of lithium ion batteries on passenger planes, NBC News reported.

Rechargeable lithium ion batteries — the kind that power almost every cellphone, laptop, tablet, camera and gaming device — are susceptible to overheating, and they've been blamed for causing in-flight fires. Non-rechargeable lithium metal batteries are already banned from cargo holds for the same reasons.

Tens of thousands of the batteries are often shipped on a single plane, but the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration — which has endorsed the ban — says its tests show that just one bad battery can cause a rapid chain reaction resulting in an explosion and "catastrophic hull loss."

While Monday's decision by the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization isn't binding, the United States and most other countries comply with its standards.

In addition to the FAA, the U.S. Transportation Department and the National Transportation Safety Board have backed the ban.

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