The FAA, Lithium Batteries, and You

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Are you the type of traveler who brings a spare laptop battery, phone battery, or camera batteries for a long vacation? Or maybe you are an electronics enthusiast traveling with your battery powered IoT device to a convention or Maker Faire? If so, the FAA’s directive for lithium batteries may effect you.

It’s been no secret that the FAA is not big fans of flying large quantities of lithium batteries. Back in 2010, after a Boeing 747 went down because a large shipment of lithium batteries overheated and started a fire, the FAA issued a fire warning for any aircraft that would be carrying lithium batteries. 

However, on October 8, 2015, the FAA issued a new warning for passengers flying with lithium batteries for personal use. Specifically it prohibits passengers from traveling with lithium batteries (rechargeable or otherwise) in their checked baggage. Lithium batteries have become a nearly ubiquitous source of power, used in everything from electric toothbrushes, to smart phones, laptops, and children’s toys.

Lithium batteries are popular because of their unique power-to-weight ratio, affordability, and variety of power choices. Furthermore, lithium batteries have been the go-to choice for powering all kinds of electronics projects — from Arduino controlled builds, to single-board computers (like the Qualcomm Dragonboard, Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone) — and is embedded in all kinds of IoT devices as a backup battery or primary power source. 

So if you’re going on a long trip and want to bring a second battery for your laptop or you want to take your latest electronic project on-the-go, you’re going to have to cram the battery next to your M&Ms and John Grisham novel in your carry-on.

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