• Poorly manufactured, faulty and misused lithium batteries and those which have not been protected against short circuit can experience something called ‘thermal runaway’.  This results in them getting so hot that they can catch fire, explode and ignite other nearby batteries.  If that were to happen on the flight deck it could significantly disrupt the operation of the aircraft and cause serious injury to flight crew. Similarly, if such an event occurred in the passenger cabin it could cause serious injury to a passenger or crew member.  Accordingly, Controlled portable electronic devices (C-PEDs) are subject to safety design and operational standards. 

    C-PEDs with installed or external batteries taken on board the aircraft by the operator could include:

    • Portable In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) units
    • Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), including any associated additional batteries (e.g. power banks) which have been approved for use
    • Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
    • Point-Of-Sale (POS) equipment, e.g. credit card readers
    • Portable electronic devices carried by the operator for sale on the aircraft during the flight or series of flights, such as power banks, portable speakers, etc.

    The ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO Doc 9284) set out safety requirements applicable to lithium battery powered devices carried aboard an aircraft by the operator for use on the aircraft during the flight or series of flights. 

    These requirements state:

    • spare lithium batteries must be individually protected to prevent short circuits when not in use;
    • conditions for the carriage and use of these electronic devices and for the carriage of spare batteries must be provided in the operations manual and/or other appropriate manuals.

    Part 1; 2.2.1 of the ICAO Technical Instructions and AMC1.CAT.GEN.MPA.140 (f)(1) of Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on air operations, each require that:

    • the cells/batteries contained in a C-PED (and any spares) must be of a type which meets the requirements of each test in the United Nations UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, subsection 38.3 – this is referred to as the UN38.3 tests.

    EASA AMC 20-25 “Airworthiness and operational considerations for electronic flight bags” section 6.2 sets out the evidence required to be collected and retained by operators to demonstrate that rechargeable lithium batteries used to power EFBs and any power banks used to recharge them during flight are acceptable.  Operators should collect and retain evidence of the UN38.3 tests, plus one of three specified Underwriters Laboratory (UL), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) tests.  

    Lithium cells/batteries of portable electronic devices carried by the operator for sale on the aircraft must also have passed UN38.3 tests, so operators should ensure that the inflight sales procurement process seeks and retains suitable evidence of this.