Air transport requirements and latest developments of lithium-ion batteries



The United Nations Manual of Tests and Criteria for the Transport of Dangerous Goods is specially formulated by the United Nations for the transport of dangerous goods, and its Part 3, Section 38.3, is UN38.3. That is, it is required that lithium batteries on planes must pass 8 test requirements before transportation to ensure the safety of lithium batteries on planes. Generally, customers require lithium batteries store to submit UN38.3 reports, appraisal certificates, MSDS and drop test reports and other reports.



altitude simulation test


high low temperature cycling test


vibration test


impulse test


55°C external short circuit test


bump test


Overcharge test


forced discharge test

The air transport requirements for lithium batteries on planes not only control the safety performance of the product, but also have strict requirements such as packaging and appearance labeling. This article will carry out a detailed development of the air transportation requirements and latest developments of lithium batteries on planes (including cells and battery packs), which may help you understand the transportation requirements of lithium batteries on planes in depth.


12v 50ah lithium-ion
  • UN NO.: UN number for dangerous goods, UN3480 for lithium-ion batteries.
  • Proper Shipping Name:such as lithium ion batteries.
  • Class or Div.: the hazard class of the battery, the lithium-ion battery is Class 9.
  • Hazard Label: lithium-ion battery is the ninth category of dangerous goods label.
  • PG: packing box category, the packing box category of lithium ion battery is above class II (Y), that is, if lithium ion is transported as dangerous goods, it needs to use class I (X) or II (Y) carton.
  • Pkg Inst: packing work instruction, lithium ion battery is PI965.
  • P.: special requirements, special requirements for lithium ions include: A51/A88/A99/A154/A164/A183.
  • 3 Test: in order to ensure the safety of transportation of lithium batteries on planes, T1 ~ T8 tests are required.
  • QMP: quality management procedures, lithium ion battery pack should be produced under an effective quality management system.
  • Overpack: it refers to the collection of multiple boxes of goods into one package.
  • DGR: dangerous goods regulations. Means, during air transport, that may contain hazards to health, safety, property or the environment and are listed in the IATA Dangerous Goods Code, Chapter 4, List of Dangerous Goods, or are classified as dangerous goods in accordance with this rule items or substances.

2.Labels and identification

① Lithium-ion battery operation label

Lithium-ion battery operation label


Minimum size: 120×110mm; if the carton is too small, 74×105mm can be used; if it is attached to the top of the box, 120×110mm is required.

② Special label for cargo aircraft

Minimum size: 120×110mm; if this label is attached, it can only take the cargo plane.

Special label for cargo aircraft.webp

③ Basic labeling and marking requirements

The basic tags are as follows:

Basic labeling and marking requirements


In addition to the labelling and sign post mentioned above, the following information shall be included:

  • Net weight, gross weight and other information.
  • If necessary, emergency contacts and contact numbers.
  • The pattern, colour and size of the label must comply with the requirements specified by the DGR.
  • The Dangerous Goods Category Label must be on the same side as the Handling Label.
  • If transported by cargo aircraft, a "Cargo Aiecraft Only" label must be posted and affixed adjacent to the Dangerous Goods category label.
  • When the package size is appropriate, all labels are affixed to the same side as the "Shipping name" label.
  • Labels used on packages within an overpack shall be clearly visible, otherwise the labels on all packages shall be reproduced on the outside of the overpack. In addition, there must be an "Overpack" mark on the outside of the package.
  • Text requirements. English must be used unless the country of origin requires another language. When necessary, Chinese and English can be used; for packages over 30KG, the font size is required to be >12mm; for packages under 30KG, the font size is not less than 6mm; for packages under 5KG, the font size is required to be appropriately sized.

3.PI965 main requirements

Lithium-ion battery category division: lithium batteries on planes are divided into Section IA, Section IB, and Section II according to power and packing capacity.

  • Section IA standard: battery pack power>100Wh, cell power>20Wh;
  • Section II standard: power <= 2.7Wh, weight per box <= 2.5kg (cell or battery pack); power 2.7 < power <= 20Wh, quantity per box <= 8PCS (cell); 2.7 < power <= 100Wh , Quantity per box <= 2PCS (battery pack);
  • Section IB standard: power<=2.7Wh, weight per box>2.5kg (cell or battery pack); 2.7<power<=100Wh, quantity per box>2PCS (battery pack); power 2.7<power<=20Wh, each The number of boxes>8PCS (cells).

4.UN38.3 requirements

  • All Li-ion batteries must pass the UN38.3 test.
  • Lithium batteries on planes (I A/I B) classified as dangerous goods require a third-party qualified laboratory test report.
  • Lithium-ion batteries classified as Section II can be tested by internal laboratories, but if required by relevant units, they also need to obtain a test report from a third-party qualified laboratory. For some large battery companies' internal UN38.3 reports, most customers still recognize them.

5.Weight requirements per box

  • Section I A: When transported by passenger aircraft, the net weight of each box shall not exceed 5KG; when transported by cargo aircraft, the net weight of each box shall not exceed 35KG.
  • Section I B: No matter whether it is a passenger aircraft or a cargo aircraft, the gross weight of each box cannot exceed 10KG.
  • Section II: Packing by limited quantity or weight.

6.Carton requirements

  • Section I A: UN Class II and above cartons are required, that is, UN I(X) and UN II(Y) cartons can be used.
    • Package code: the material category of the packing box used, the general corrugated box is 4G.
    • Category: X is class I, Y is class II, Z is class III; lithium-ion battery DG product requires class II or class I UN carton
    • Weight limit: the carton can bear the maximum weight, the packing weight cannot exceed this weight, and the weight must meet the requirements of 5.4. Year of production: The validity period of the carton is 2 years. If the carton with the validity period of more than 2 years is to be reused, it is necessary to re-apply for the packaging performance inspection result sheet.
    • Test country: China is CN.
  • Section I B and II: UN cartons are not required, but the cartons must be rigid (can pass the 1.2m drop test).

7.Inner packaging

All Inner packaging of lithium batteries on planes must have anti-short circuit measures (such as single isolation, fixed position, PE bag, etc.); Section I A must prevent current reverse flow (such as protective plate / FUSE and other devices).


The IATA (International Air Transport Association) DGR (Dangerous Goods Regulations) are basically updated every year. In 2020, a new version of the IATA-DGR 61 Edition manual will be released, which will revise and adjust the relevant rules for air transport of various types of dangerous goods, and some rules for best lithium batteries on planes have also been revised. Therefore, the requirements of the relevant transportation rules must be implemented in accordance with the latest version. The main changes in the latest version of DGR are:

  • Changed Lithium Metal Batteries to Aggregate Lithium Content in chapters PI968 to PI970 to align with the terminology in the Manual of Test and Criteria.
  • Modify the size of Lithium Handling Mark, the new mark is 100mm x 100mm rectangle or square. The smallest mark size becomes 100mm X 70mm.
  • From January 1, 2020, UN38.3 Test Summary needs to be submitted to the carrier before shipment.