The UN’s aviation agency has banned passenger aircraft from transporting lithium-ion batteries as cargo, amid fears that they could blow up.
Lithium-ion batteries are used in almost every piece of consumer technology. They are rechargeable and power everything from phones to laptops.
But despite their wide use, the International Civil Aviation Organization has ruled that the batteries should not be carried as cargo.
The ban won’t affect batteries that are already in devices and will only apply to those being carried as cargo. Many of the concerns come from batteries being transported too closely together.
The ban will now stand until companies create fire-resistant packaging to transport the batteries in. That is expected by 2018, according to AO Council President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.
Pilots and plane makers worry that it would be too difficult to put out a fire caused by such a battery, if it were to happen in a container that was too close to a large number of other such batteries.
That concern still exists for those that have already been put in devices. Consumer batteries that are either badly made or become damaged can themselves explode or catch fire, potentially causing huge damage to those that own them.
Devices from phones to hoverboards have suffered problems as a result of the technology. It remains widely used because no competing, safe alternative has yet been developed.
But some have worried that the ban on transporting the batteries will have little effect. Authorities already banned the similar lithium batteries, but then many suppliers simply put different names onto the packaging.