The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is concerned about the fire risks associated with the broad use by aircraft operators of portable equipment devices (PEDs), such as portable wireless network providers, containing lithium batteries that exceed ICAO limits.
As lithium batteries are considered ‘dangerous goods’, airlines must comply with ICAO Doc 9284, ‘Technical Instructions For The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air’. These ICAO standards state that operators can carry lithium battery powered devices and their spare lithium batteries for use on the aircraft during the flight or series of flights as long as the Watt hours (Wh) of its battery do not exceed 100, or the lithium content does not exceed 2 grams.
EASA published a Safety Information Bulletin reminding operators and authorities and clarifying a.o.:
- In terms of calculating the Wh of the battery, when one PED has several batteries powering it together, the addition of Wh of all the batteries powering the device should be considered.
- The batteries and cells must be of a type which meets the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, Subsection 38.3.
- Regardless of this exception, operators must still fulfil the following:
o Spare lithium batteries to be individually protected, to prevent short circuits when not in use;
o Conditions for the carriage and use of these electronic devices and for the carriage of spare batteries to be provided in the operations manual and/or other appropriate manuals as will enable flight crew, cabin crew and other employees to carry out their responsibilities, for normal operation and for potential failures (including thermal runaway) of the PEDs.
- Unless otherwise authorized by the State of the Operator, battery-powered devices with installed batteries and spare batteries intended as replacements for those referred above must be transported in accordance with ICAO Doc 9284.
- Those items which battery exceeds 100 Wh or 2 grams of lithium content must be transported in accordance with ICAO Doc 9284 and, therefore, they are subject to the appropriate regulations/approvals/authorizations for transport on board when they are intended to be used on the aircraft during the flight.
- All PEDs carried by the operator must comply with the applicable provisions of the Air Operations regulation. With regard to cabin crew qualification requirements, the referenced regulation and the provisions of Part CC as specified in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 must also be complied with. It is recommended that the provisions of The ICAO Emergency Response Guidelines (ERG) are taken into consideration
EASA additionally reminds operators, who intend to carry PEDs containing battery or batteries that exceed the limits above mentioned, of the requirement to obtain from their competent authority the specific authorization in accordance with ICAO Doc 9284. EASA recommends that these units meet the requirements applicable to lithium batteries installed on aircraft.
EASA further recommends authorities to include this item in their oversight programmes.