ejonesss wrote:i thought one of the rules sais no batteries on passenger flights.
i just saw on cnn today that there may have been some batteries in the cargo compartment of the missing flight.
so how could batteries get abord a passenger flight is the rules sais not to?
The rules for shipping lithium-ion battery are laid out in the IATA recommendation and 49 CFR.
You can carry on up to 2 "spare" li-ion battery > 100Whr in a passenger flight (can't put them in checked baggage). You can ship up to 5kg of li-ion battery per box in a passenger plane if they are declared as Dangerous Goods. There are distinctions for battery by itself, battery inside equipment, and battery shipped with equipment.
If you are just an average joe, you pretty much can't ship any li-ion battery by law. Even then, all these exception REQUIRE the battery to pass UN38.3 testing. If you just make a pack and try to ship it, it will require DG declaration regardless of capacity.
If you bought a commercial pack that is UN38.3 certified, you can ship a battery with up to 25g of lithium content (about 12V 20AH or equivalent for li-ion) by putting a label on the box that says "lithium batteries -forbidden for transport by aircraft and vessel". If you put more than 12 packs in a box, you gotta add the li-ion warning label.
The reason why the air shipping is insane is because first of all, you can't air ship any Li-ion > 100whr from US to EU, UPS/Fedex simply won't take it because it's prohibited. Even if you have something that you can ship, you are charged a $60 DG handling fee in addition to the shipping cost. Third, air shipping is charged by dimensional weight. Since you have to use a UN approved box with a lot of padding, the dimensional weight will be somewhere around 30+ pounds. For example, if that battery you mention was allowed for US to EU shipment, it would cost at least $350. Lastly, when you ship by sea you are shipping LTL and buying cargo space, the least of which is 1 cubic meter so $500 is entire fair.
UN38.3 testing is a set of 8 tests that you need specific machines for. Testing takes around 1 month and cost around $5000 in the US and about $2000 in Asia. Unless you are a battery manufacturer, you need a lab to do it for you. Without the UN38.3 certification, you can only declare small quantity of "prototype" battery as DG and ship that way.
I would advise you to get familiar with the 49CFR and IATA DGR if you want to ship li-ion battery, the penalties are numerous and stiff.
Source: I work in shipping.