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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 #11-0113 ([Council on Safe Transport of Hazardous Articles, Inc.] [Mr. Thomas W. Ferguson])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: Council on Safe Transport of Hazardous Articles, Inc.

Individual Name: Mr. Thomas W. Ferguson

Location State: VA Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

May 15, 2012




Mr. Thomas W. Ferguson
Technical Consultant
Council on Safe Transport of Hazardous Articles, Inc.
7803 Hill House Court
Fairfax Station, VA 22039

Ref. No.: 11-0113

Dear Mr. Ferguson:

This responds to your May 6, 2011, letter posing several questions concerning the applicability of the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180) to the carriage of an airline passenger's non-spillable battery in carry-on or checked baggage. You also asked about a carrier"s obligation to accept a non-spillable battery-powered wheelchair or other non-spillable battery-powered mobility aid in accordance with nondiscrimination requirements under 14 CFR Part 382, Subpart I, specifically, 14 CFR 382.121. Your questions have been paraphrased and are answered as follows:

Q1. Is a non-spillable battery that meets the conditions of § 173.159a(d) subject to the additional conditions of § 175.10(a)(15) when offered for transportation as checked baggage?

A1. Yes, a passenger may only transport a non-spillable battery as checked baggage if it meets the conditions of § 175.10(a)(15).

Q2. Is a carrier required to transport a non-spillable battery as checked baggage when it is not installed in a battery powered mobility aid?

A2. A non-spillable battery may be separately packaged and transported in the baggage compartment along with the wheelchair or mobility aid that it powers, if the removal of the battery from the device is necessary to prevent a short circuit or unintentional activation (see § 175.10(a)(15)). A carrier is required to transport a battery-powered mobility aid as checked baggage so long as such transportation is consistent with PHMSA"s hazardous materials regulations specified in §§ 173.159a(d) and 175.10(a)(15). Furthermore, with respect to the carriers" responsibility, 14 CFR 382.127 prohibits a carrier from requiring that the non-spillable battery be removed from the wheelchair or other mobility aid unless it is necessary to do so for safety reasons. When the non-spillable battery must be detached from the assistive device, it may only be carried if it is placed in packaging meeting the requirements of § 175.10.

Q3. If a non-spillable battery meets the conditions of § 173.159a(d), is it permitted in the cabin of an aircraft as carry-on baggage (i.e. not installed in equipment)?

A3. No, as indicated in A1 above, a hazardous material carried by a passenger must meet an exception in § 175.10. Section 175.10 does not provide an exception for carriage of a non- spillable battery as carry-on baggage and as such does not permit a passenger to carry a non-spillable battery in the cabin of an aircraft, regardless of whether it is transported alone or attached to a device.

Q4. If a non-spillable battery meets the conditions of § 173.159a(d), is it permitted in the cabin of an aircraft as carry-on baggage when the battery is installed in medical equipment, assistive devices, or mobility aids?

A4. No. As indicated in A3 above, a non-spillable battery is not permitted in a passenger"s carry-on baggage. The Department"s disability regulation states that a carrier must permit passengers with a disability to bring manual wheelchairs, other mobility aids (e.g., canes), or other assistive devices into the aircraft cabin, provided that their stowage in the cabin is consistent with FAA, PHMSA, TSA, or applicable foreign government requirements. (see 14 CFR 382.121). If an assistive device cannot, consistent with government safety and security requirements, such as the HMR, be transported in the cabin, 14 CFR Part 382 does not require the carrier to accept it in the cabin. In fact, the carrier must not accept a material that would result in violation of the HMR.

I hope this answers your inquiry. If you need additional assistance, please contact the Standards and Rulemaking Division.



Charles E. Betts
Standards and Rulemaking Division

173.159, 175,10

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
173.159 Batteries, wet