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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Interpretation Response #09-0249 ([Dangerous Goods United Airlines] [Ms. Nancy Finkenkeller])

Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Dangerous Goods United Airlines

Individual Name: Ms. Nancy Finkenkeller

Location State: IL Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

April 1, 2010

 

 

 

 

Ms. Nancy Finkenkeller

Staff Specialist - Dangerous Goods

United Airlines

1200 East Algonquin Road

Elk Grove, IL 60007



Ref. No. 09-0249

Dear Ms. Finkenkeller:

This responds to your October 27, 2009 letter concerning the applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) to the carriage of a passenger's lithium-ion battery-powered wheelchair or other lithium-ion battery-powered mobility aid as carry-on or checked baggage aboard an aircraft. Specifically, you requested clarification of the applicability of the exceptions for passengers provided in § 175.10. You also asked about an airline's requirement to accept a battery-powered wheelchair or other battery-powered mobility aid in accordance with nondiscrimination requirements under 14 CFR Part 382, Subpart I, specifically, 14 CFR 382.125 and 382.127.

The HMR do not except from regulation (as a Class 9 hazardous material) the carriage of a passenger's lithium-ion battery-powered wheelchair or other lithium-ion battery-powered mobility aid as carry-on or checked baggage under § 175.10. The provisions in § 175.10(a)(15) and (a)(16) that except wheelchairs and other battery-powered mobility aids equipped with nonspillable or spillable batteries as checked baggage are not applicable to a lithium-ion battery-powered wheelchair or other lithium-ion battery-powered mobility aid because, for purposes of the HMR, a lithium-ion battery is not regulated in the same manner as a nonspillable or spillable battery. Moreover, the provisions in § 175.10(a)(17) that except "consumer type" portable electronic devices (e.g., cameras, lap-tops, certain battery-powered medical devices, etc.) powered by lithium batteries do not apply to wheelchairs and other battery-powered mobility aids because we do not consider these items to be portable electronic devices. Note that to mark a battery as "NONSPILLABLE" is a specific requirement for the transportation of nonspillable batteries provided in § 173.159a. No similar marking provision for a lithium-ion battery is in the HMR.

Currently, a wheelchair or other battery-powered mobility aid equipped with a lithium-ion battery must be shipped as a "Battery-powered vehicle, UN3171" and transported in accordance with § 173.220 and other applicable requirements of the HMR (e.g., shipping papers). The battery must be: (1) securely fastened in its holder/compartment (i.e., in the wheelchair); (2) protected in such a manner as to prevent damage and short circuits; and (3) of a type that successfully passed tests in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria (see § 173.220(d)). If the lithium-ion battery is not installed in but either packaged separately from the wheelchair or packaged with the wheelchair, the battery must be transported in accordance with the packaging requirements for lithium-ion batteries in §§ 173.185 and 172.102 of HMR, as appropriate.

Finally, under 14 CFR Part 382, Subpart I, an airline must permit passengers with a disability to bring manual wheelchairs or other mobility aids (e.g., canes) into the aircraft cabin (see 14 CFR 382.121). If a wheelchair or mobility aid cannot, consistent with government requirements (e.g., the HMR), be transported in the cabin, 14 CFR 382.125 requires stowage in a baggage compartment. 14 CFR 382.127 requires an airline to accept battery-powered wheelchairs as checked baggage when conditions do not prohibit doing so and consistent with the requirements of § 175.10(a)(15) and (16). Thus, an airline must permit a passenger to bring a manual wheelchair, or a wheelchair or other battery-powered mobility aid equipped with a nonspillable or spillable battery aboard a passenger aircraft.

Note that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel recently adopted a provision into the ICAO Technical Instructions (ICAO TI) to specify that, with the approval of the airline and under certain conditions, the ICAO TI do not apply to a lithium-ion battery-powered wheelchair or similar mobility aid carried by a passenger as checked baggage aboard an aircraft beginning January 1, 2011. PHMSA intends to propose to adopt a similar provision in a future rulemaking.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions, please contact this office.

Sincerely,

Edward T. Mazzullo

Director

Office of Hazardous Materials Standards

175.10, 173.220, 173.159a, 173.185, 172.102

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
172.102 Special provisions
173.159 Batteries, wet
173.185 Lithium cells and batteries
173.220 Internal combustion engines, vehicles, machinery containing internal combustion engines, battery-powered equipment or machinery, fuel cell-powered equipment or machinery
175.10 Exceptions for passengers, crewmembers, and air operators