A UN panel on aviation is recommending a total ban on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft.
Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in rechargeable consumer products like cellphones and laptops. The batteries can still be transported in cargo planes, but starting 1 April, 2016 they will be prohibited from commercial aircraft. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said the ban will be in place until a new fire-resistant packaging standard is designed to transport the batteries, which is not expected until 2018. The prohibition is mandatory for ICAO member states, which include 191 countries around the globe.
The drumbeat to ban the batteries from passenger planes has been growing over the last year, especially as they become more commonplace in the market. In March 2015, a group representing aircraft manufacturers like Boeing submitted a paper to the ICAO stating lithium-ion batteries represented "an unacceptable risk." A similar fear was expressed later by the US Federal Aviation Administration, which said a battery-related explosion could seriously compromise plane safety.
Around 5.4 billion lithium-ion batteries were manufactured in 2014, with around 70 percent of these transported by cargo ship.