In a recent meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) dangerous goods panel, an important decision was made to introduce a State of Charge (SoC) requirement of 30% for a broader range of lithium-ion battery categories transported by air.
This change particularly affects lithium-ion batteries packed with equipment, extending the SoC requirement from individual battery shipments to those enclosed within the same package as a device. Safety concerns around lithium battery shipments, especially given their growing size and volume, have prompted these regulatory adjustments. Shippers will now face added complexity in ensuring compliance with the correct state of charge, requiring extra checks and pre-shipping process modifications.
Distinct guidelines will be proposed for lithium-ion batteries contained within equipment, like those in laptops or medical devices. The panel differentiates between batteries packed with and contained in equipment, as the latter is seen to provide better protection, especially for life-saving medical devices.
While some shippers may consider transporting batteries within equipment as an alternative, this might not be feasible for all cases. The new SoC regulation, affecting batteries with a watt-hour rating over 2.7 Wh, will be mandatory from January 1, 2026, with a transition period of a year.
Further adjustments are anticipated pending final agreement before inclusion in the 2025-2026 ICAO Technical Instructions. For now, there are no similar SoC restrictions in other transportation regulations.
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