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Old April 30th, 2013, 09:33 AM   #1
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Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

Hi all,

I'll be travelling to Bora Bora for my honeymoon later in the year and I simply won't forgive myself if I don't take video footage from the air using something like the DJI Phantom with my GoPro.

But I'm a bit worried about the rules for flying with batteries. Does anyone know whether the battery that comes with this device is acceptable for airline travel?

Thanks,

-- John
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Old April 30th, 2013, 09:46 AM   #2
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Re: Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

Here is the info directly from the DOT travel website. Safe Travel

See if this helps.

------------------------------------

These definitions are provided for use with the SafeTravel website.

Carry-on baggage. Baggage carried onboard the plane, typically stowed in the overhead bin or beneath the seat.

Checked baggage. Large baggage given to the airline prior to boarding the plane, to be checked as stowage.

Equivalent Lithium Content (ELC). ELC is a measure by which lithium ion batteries are classified.

8 grams of equivalent lithium content are equal to about 100 watt-hours.
25 grams of equivalent lithium content are equal to about 300 watt-hours.

You can arrive at the number of watt-hours your battery provides if you know how many milliamp hours and volts your battery provides:
mAh/1000 x V = wh

Most lithium ion batteries marketed to consumers are below 100 watt-hours (8 grams ELC). If you are unsure of the watt-hour rating of your lithium ion battery, contact the manufacturer.
Lithium Batteries. When you see this term alone on SafeTravel pages, it refers to both lithium ion batteries and lithium metal batteries. Lithium polymer batteries are a typeof lithium ion battery, and are included in this term.

Lithium Ion Batteries. These are rechargeable lithium batteries, similar to those found in cameras, cell phones, laptop computers, and radio-controlled toys. Lithium polymer batteries are those types of lithium ion batteries.

Larger Lithium Ion Batteries contain between 8 and 25 grams Equivalent Lithium Content (ELC). Some very large after-market laptop computer batteries, and some batteries used for professional audio-visual application, fall within this definition.

Smaller Lithium Ion Batteries contain up to 8 grams Equivalent Lithium Content. Cell phone batteries and most laptop computer batteries fall below the 8 gram threshold.
Lithium Ion Batteries with more than 25 grams ELC are forbidden in air travel.
Lithium Metal Batteries. These cannot be recharged and are designed to be discarded once their initial charge is used up.

Larger Lithium Metal Batteries contain more than two grams of lithium, and are forbidden in air travel. (No common consumer lithium metal batteries are in the "larger" category.)
Spare Batteries. Spare batteries, also called "loose" batteries, are those not installed in equipment. A lithium ion battery inside your laptop computer is an installed battery. A battery carried separately, in case that installedbattery runs low, is a spare battery.

Watt-hour. For the purposes of this page, the watt-hour serves as an indirect measure of Equivalent Lithium Content (ELC). 8 grams ELC are about equal to 100 watt-hours.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 09:49 AM   #3
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Re: Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

I'm looking around to see if there are wider international limits. So far I've not found anything different from what is on the USA DOT website.

Edit:

Looks like the international limits are identical to the USA DOT limits so even though the website above is for the USA it is the same everywhere.
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Old April 30th, 2013, 12:50 PM   #4
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Re: Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

There are very specific rules and regulations regarding the carriage of Lithium based batteries on aircraft. The problem with Lithium batteries is that they will can spontaneously overheat and burn if punctured, crushed or damaged. The types of batteries used in camcorders etc tend to have special circuitry to isolate cells and shut off or fuse the output if any type of fault condition is detected. As a result simply shorting a battery should not cause an issue. The batteries used in RC aircraft do not have these protection circuits due to the high currents they must deliver. Shorting an RC LiPo will almost certainly result in an overheating battery and most likely a fire. Furthermore RC LiPo's don't have nice hard outer shells.

In addition to the regulations my opinion is this: Any fire in an aircraft hold is very bad news. Even a small battery, if it is on fire can ignite other materials around it.

Baggage handlers have no respect for luggage, they will toss it about without a care. In addition the automatic machines that sort and transport baggage around larger airports is tough on luggage.

If you put a Lithium battery in your hold luggage, pack it as though your life and the lives of every other passenger on that aircraft depends on it. Better still, take it with you in your carry-on. A fire in the overhead locker is also not good, but at least there is the possibility of fighting it. A fire extinguisher will put out the flames but it won't necessarily prevent the battery pack from continuing to thermally run-away and re-ignite. If you encounter a Lithium Ion fire water is very effective at controlling it as a constant flow of water will cool the damaged battery and stop the thermal run-away. The recommended way to fight a fire on board an aircraft is to extinguish the flames with a halon extinguisher and then use soft drinks from the drink cart (seriously) to cool the battery. See this FAA video:
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Old April 30th, 2013, 01:07 PM   #5
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Re: Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

Does that mean they won't allow the DJI to be brought in check in baggage?
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Old April 30th, 2013, 01:12 PM   #6
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Re: Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

You can't have spare batteries in your checked luggage. That is for sure. Spare batteries must be carry on.

You should be able to carry one battery mounted in the Phantom in the checked baggage.

Personally I would suggest shipping it ahead if that is an option.
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Old May 1st, 2013, 10:20 PM   #7
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Re: Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

John, new brides have rules about spending too much time shooting video on honeymoons. Page 8 Para 10 sub par 3. lol.

Check with your airline about carryons etc. Doubt whether you can fly your Phantom there, scare the locals. Don't forget you have to come back through BB customs as well, don't bring any wooden souvenirs. Customs here will grab 'em suspecting Bora Bora borers, they did ours. Congratulations.

Cheers.
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Old May 11th, 2013, 04:00 AM   #8
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Re: Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
, don't bring any wooden souvenirs.
This includes the wooden nickles?
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Old May 12th, 2013, 09:59 PM   #9
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Re: Taking a DJI Phantom on an airline - battery question

I fly all the time with large camera batts as carry ons. The main difference is that they are in a factory housing. This makes them less likely to put up any warning flags for the airlines checkers. I can also snap one onto a camera and power up the camera if asked to - which has happened over the years - Since these SUAV battery backs are non discript - usually showing no ID or logos - they might be taken.
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