U.S. hazardous material regulations prohibit air cargo shipments of recalled or defective lithium batteries and lithium battery-powered devices, and passengers may not turn on or charge the devices when they carry them on board a plane. Passengers must also protect the devices from accidental activation, including disabling any features that may turn on the device, such as alarm clocks, and must not pack them in checked luggage.
The FAA issued the Safety Alert for Operators, or SAFO, in conjunction with a Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration safety advisory (PDF).
The SAFO urges the airlines: to ensure that cargo and passenger processing employees, and those responsible for cabin safety, are aware of the rules; to ensure that cargo customers are aware of the rules; and to include information and guidance on their websites about damaged or recalled lithium batteries and devices.
The SAFO notes that the hazardous material regulations do not preclude an airline from proactively placing its own restrictions on carrying or using specific lithium battery products on board aircraft, prior to an official government recall or advisory.