Lithium-ion batteries - the kind used in hoverboards - aren't the only power sources being banned on airlines: it looks like rechargeable batteries might be getting the boot as well.

According to a Guardian exclusive, a panel at the UN called The International Civilian Aviation Organization (ICAO) has strongly recommended a prohibition on transporting shipments of rechargeable lithium batteries aboard cargo flights due to their tendency to catch on fire. 

While lithium batteries are pretty common (responsible for charging almost all of the smart devices you own, for instance), they can be pretty tempermental and easily overheat. And while most batteries are transported internationally via cargo ship, roughly one-third of them are taken from point A to point B by air. Because lithium batteries can be affected by something as seemingly insignificant as a mild temperature drop, all it takes is one malfunctioning battery to react adversely to flying conditions, theoretically setting the entire shipment on fire - and the airplane along with it. 

According to ICAO, at least three cargo planes have gone down due to fires started by Li-ion batteries since 2006, killing four pilots in total.

The ban has also been backed by other country-specific organizations, like the U.S.'s Federal Aviation Administration.

"We believe the risk [of lithium-ion batteries] is immediate and urgent," said the FAA's hazardous materials safety official Angela Stubblefield in a public presentation on Oct. 8 on the matter, as reported by the Guardian.

While the ban would hypothetically affect the business sector, it is unlikely to have much of an impact on average travelers. But as The Next Web points out, if a ban were to be enacted for all devices powered by Li-ion batteries, it could potentially prevent bringing phones, laptops, tablets, or other items people find instrumental for their day-to-day lives anywhere near a jet plane.

The ban will need a final round of approval to go into effect; a meeting on the matter is set to occur next month.

Just for fun, watch some lithium-ion batteries catch on fire in the video clip below (and remember, as if it needs to be said: don't try any of this at home).


Source: The Guardian

Photo: Dennis Jarvis | Flickr  

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