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Lead-acid battery banned on aircraft as dangerous-goods


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#1 Stuart Page

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 05:59 PM

I have just returned from a visit to another city here in New Zealand. I flew down for the day with a 16mm camera that I power with a sealed 12v lead-acid battery. For one reason or another I ended up carrying the battery (it's in an aluminium case with a Cannon socket that was covered with gaffer tape) in my carry-on baggage along with the filmstock etc...

For the first time ever, I had the battery case opened and inspected by two Aviation Security officers who nearly made me miss my flight, and ultimately refused to let me take the battery on the plane. A ground-staff member of the airline was furious as she said it was OK to take the battery on board, but the AS men said she had no jurisdiction in the matter. It was the weekend, film gear was all booked-out in the city, and I was unable to get a replacement battery, and wound up (pardon the pun) shooting the job on a clockwork Bolex which saved the day. :)

Has anyone else encountered this problem? The AS men said it wouldn't make any difference if I'd packed the battery in my checked-in baggage, that it was still illegal. If anything had happened on the flight that could be linked to the battery, I would be liable for fines up to NZ$10,000 :ph34r: (Earlier this year I took a similar battery to Maui, Hawaii and it passed inspection by Honolulu and Maui security, who I'd have thought would be more stringent [paranoid] than our security here in New Zealand.

How do people deal with air transportation of their camera batteries? Do they get shipped ahead on cargo flights? Do people rent batteries in other towns? Are there any other batteries considered safe for air transportation?

Any ideas would be appreciated, I'm considering laying a complaint as the loss of battery considerably messed up my tightly-scheduled shoot. :angry:

Thanks in advance
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#2 Ira Ratner

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 07:14 PM

This is the most retarded thing I ever heard:

Is GW running NZ now?
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 November 2008 - 10:03 PM

Never had that problem before. Never heard of that problem before. Jeez. :blink:
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#4 David Auner aac

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 04:04 AM

Never had that problem before. Never heard of that problem before. Jeez. :blink:


Me neither. But I have head that some airlines won't let you take Li-Ion battery packs as luggage either. So that really narrows down your option. Good that I have my Bolex Rex-5! But wait a minute, I need to get a battery-less meter too! ;)

Cheers, Dave
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 06:41 AM

Given that aircraft use sealed lead acid batteries for power, it's very strange.

http://www.airforce-...trical/enersys/

I think these guys could be confusing them with the li-lon batteries.
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#6 Will Earl

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 07:40 AM

Bizarre especially on a domestic flight, and I can't seem to find any information on batteries now being restricted on NZ flights - I've taken li-lon batteries on many NZ (both domestic and international) flights before with no problems.

I'd start complaining.
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 10:15 AM

They may have just picked up the word "acid" in their heads, which would be a restricted liquid. However, these batteries are sealed units and won't leak like a car battery. I'd clear it up with the airline.
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#8 Walter Graff

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 10:34 AM

Sorry to say your batteries are in a grey zone and it is the discretion of the agents. Bottom line spill able batteries are prohibited. While your batteries are 'sealed', it appears the agents determined that they had liquid and according to the lists of dangerous materials, that liquid is on the list. In the US, technically such batteries can not be carried on or put in luggage according to the TSA list. You can complain, but when it comes to 'security', agents discretion always wins.
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#9 Stuart Page

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 07:34 PM

You can complain, but when it comes to 'security', agents discretion always wins.


I've written to the airline for clarification on this one. I read in a few places online that those sort of batteries have been cleared by D.O.T., I.A.T.A., I.C.A.O., F.A.A.

See below:

http://www.atbatt.co...oduct/20755.asp
Amstron 6V/3.2AH Sealed Lead Acid Battery w/ F1 Terminal
? Approved for transport by air. D.O.T., I.A.T.A., I.C.A.O., F.A.A.
-----------------

http://blogs.smh.com...e_does_n_1.html
... Included in my bags were :- A panel beating hammer; two large sealed lead acid batteries (allowable under ICAO rules); steel tools; radio transmitters, lots of cables, aluminium extrusion; spare laptop; extension cords; test gear; two portable weather stations; some antennas and lots more stuff that I have forgotten about.
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#10 Walter Graff

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 08:26 PM

It doesn't matter what governing body says or lists, if an agent determines something to be hazardous, he has the final say. There are cases like yours all over the web. Example:

http://www.dvinfo.ne...atteries-6.html

"I just had a Bescor 12V Lead Acid Camera Light Battery ( http://www.bhphotovi....e_Battery.html) removed from my luggage after flying to the UK with it in Checked baggage (had all ready filled my carry on with my XH-A1 and its accessories) Newark People decided it was unsafe to fly and they are holding it in the Hazmat area until I return to Newark (which I never will). They could not tell me why it was not allowed. I was trying to read the rules but they all seem to talk about LIONs not Lead Acid. (I don't know the difference) I have no problem flying by the rules but I would have appreciated being given a chance to mail the battery to my self, not being told after boarding that "An electrical device was removed from your baggage and can be picked up when you return." I am waiting for a call back to see if they can ship it to me. For what it is worth when they asked if I had any hazardous material in my bag I did tell them that I had a larger than normal rechargeable 12 Volt set of batteries for a camera light but they did not care when I was checking in."



Sorry but the rules are the rules and the final determination by the agent at that time is the final rule. If they think in any way what you carry can leak, has potential for shorting. or anything else they can reject it. Go through ten agents and none will have trouble, then meet agent eleven and they say no. Since the TSA list sealed batteries as potnetially hazerdous an agent has the desgression to say they are. And since your batteries look very much like some part of a bomb, I can understand why.
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#11 Stuart Page

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 08:44 PM

...And since your batteries look very much like some part of a bomb, I can understand why...
[/quote]

I've written to Aviation Security as well, I'll post what they say.

So any suggestions how you get batteries from A to B ? Some useful advice would be appreciated :-) - (the "bomb" thing is hysterical, a pen could be a bomb, as could a cellphone or practically anything, a friend of mine was forced to tip all the water out of her baby's bottle before they boarded a plane in Vancouver this week! Heh heh)...

Edited by Stuart Page, 01 December 2008 - 08:45 PM.

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#12 Dan Goulder

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:22 AM

Has anyone else encountered this problem? The AS men said it wouldn't make any difference if I'd packed the battery in my checked-in baggage, that it was still illegal. If anything had happened on the flight that could be linked to the battery, I would be liable for fines up to NZ$10,000

...and you could also be charged with battery.
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#13 Paul Bruening

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 12:37 AM

...and you could also be charged with battery.


Good one. Your joke is an assault on my senses.
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#14 Dan Goulder

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 01:10 AM

Good one. Your joke is an assault on my senses.

Sorry, man. A salt on battery is a non-starter.
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#15 Phil Savoie

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 04:35 AM

Has anyone else encountered this problem?


I've had security hold me up while boarding at San Jose airport in Costa Rica once before. I had been shooting in the country since the 80's, this was the first time I ever had problems. The chap wasn't interested in reason. Despite hand checking over 20 cans of exposed 16mm and a number of 35mm cans in a black bag together - this evolved each of us having one arm in the bag and opening each and every can. Great fun with two months of exposed work! And reviewing my carnet, BBC credentials and permit paperwork from the Costa Rican government and the go ahead nod from both ticket counter personnel the AS fellow did not want me to fly. In the end the Continental supervisor had to come to the security gate and argue with him to get me and my assistant on the plane- they were not keen to have to unload my 40+ cases already loaded on board ;-).

Today flying with gear is more of a pain than ever. I get incredibly frustrated watching TSA 'professionals' fumble through Zeiss Super Speeds and the like often repacking them improperly. And when you politely request for them to repack the gear because it is fragile and very expensive you're told to stand back and let them do their job of protecting you. And it is out of the question for you to be able to repack it yourself under their watchful eye because thats against the rules, and please stand back, don't cross that line, etc.. They have confiscated countless cans of air, graphite powder, lens cleaning solution and the like. Often I'm traveling to locals where expendable replacements don't exist.

These days if at all possible I call the airport in advance and speak to the head security honcho. I try to set-up a time for us to show up so they can inspect the cases. Sometimes they will even give you a private screening if your traveling with enough gear. And I have to say they seem to appreciate a professional approach. This lets them know we are a pro crew and gives them a heads up that we are coming in with 20-45 cases so they don't wig out. In all fairness it seems the right thing to do and I'm sure it has helped me get the gear through more smoothly. The down side of course is we often get to the airport at 5am just to get the kit sorted and the plane flys hours later, but at least the gear is cleared and as an owner/op thats peace of mind.

Since Jan 2008 ION batteries have been restricted: http://www.tsa.gov/t.../batteries.shtm

But if they are going to start messing with lead acid power sources as well it's going to cause real problems for production. My other advice would be to travel with as much professional paperwork as possible and let the airline know well ahead of time what you carrying. At the time you book your flight tell them your a pro shooter and you'll be traveling with X number of cases, film stock/tape/cards/drives, and power sources. Ask them to write this as a note on the booking so when you pop up at X airport the agent sees the notes on the screen and they are made aware and can hopefully head off any issues with grumpy AS 'professionals'.

Pity but I don't think I'll live to see a time when we can all fly the friendly skys again, it was fun when it lasted but sadly those days are over.
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#16 Olex Kalynychenko

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 02:16 AM

....Anyone know if there are restrictions for air travel with Lead Acid, NiCD, or NiMH batteries?

John P. Pytlak Wrote:

Here is a link to the current "official" TSA list of prohibited items:

http://www.tsa.gov/i...hibited_NEW.pdf

It specifically bans "spillable batteries" (except those in wheelchairs) from both checked and carry-on baggage. It does allow "camcorders" and "camera equipment", evidently as long as they do not have "spillable batteries".

Always a good idea to carry pertinent pages of the latest TSA guidelines, in case you need to negotiate/convince security personnel:

http://www.tsa.gov/p...torial_1012.xml

http://www.tsa.gov/p...90005198004a860

http://www.tsa.gov/p...90005198006b11c

One issue with shipping sealed lead-acid batteries is how well they are "sealed". At the reduced air pressure at high altitudes, even a sealed battery could leak acid. The other issue with high capacity batteries is the potential for heat and fire if the terminals accidently get shorted. I know some larger Lithium batteries have had issues:

http://www.ultralife...Regulations.pdf
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#17 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 11:41 AM

One issue with shipping sealed lead-acid batteries is how well they are "sealed". At the reduced air pressure at high altitudes, even a sealed battery could leak acid. The other issue with high capacity batteries is the potential for heat and fire if the terminals accidently get shorted. I know some larger Lithium batteries have had issues:


The specialized aviation sealed lead acid batteries appear to have a valve to balance the air pressure difference.
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#18 Stuart Page

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 03:29 PM

It specifically bans "spillable batteries" (except those in wheelchairs) from both checked and carry-on baggage. It does allow "camcorders" and "camera equipment", evidently as long as they do not have "spillable batteries".

Always a good idea to carry pertinent pages of the latest TSA guidelines, in case you need to negotiate/convince security personnel:

http://www.tsa.gov/p...torial_1012.xml

http://www.tsa.gov/p...90005198004a860

http://www.tsa.gov/p...90005198006b11c

One issue with shipping sealed lead-acid batteries is how well they are "sealed". At the reduced air pressure at high altitudes, even a sealed battery could leak acid. The other issue with high capacity batteries is the potential for heat and fire if the terminals accidently get shorted. I know some larger Lithium batteries have had issues:

http://www.ultralife...Regulations.pdf
[/quote]

Thanks for your research, unfortunately some of those links were dead. However, I did a search and found the article that mentions "spillable batteries". The question now is what defines "spillable"? A sealed lead-acid gel battery would seem to be "unspillable" - especially if it has a pressure-regulating valve (although that would seem to make it "unsealed" to some extent).

I have been in touch with AVSEC here in NZ (Aviation Security) and they are coming back to me with information about just what sort of batteries can travel, and how.
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#19 Stuart Page

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 03:30 PM

The specialized aviation sealed lead acid batteries appear to have a valve to balance the air pressure difference.


I'll look into that, do you know who makes those?
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#20 Stuart Page

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 03:48 PM

The specialized aviation sealed lead acid batteries appear to have a valve to balance the air pressure difference.


This is interesting, although it almost appears to contradict itself. It says "there is minimal leakage" and later says "it cannot spill."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead-acid_battery

Valve regulated lead acid batteries
Main article: VRLA
The Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) battery is one of many types of lead-acid batteries. In a VRLA battery the hydrogen and oxygen produced in the cells largely recombine back into water. In this way there is minimal leakage, though some electrolyte still escapes if the recombination cannot keep up with gas evolution.

VRLA types became popular on motorcycles because the acid electrolyte is absorbed into the medium which separates the plates, so it cannot spill.

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