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  Lithium Batteries

Lithium Batteries

There are a number of risks that are inherent to sUAS operations, one of which is the use of lithium batteries. Lithium batteries, while excellent at providing power to unmanned aircraft in a small size profile, can be quite dangerous when not used properly or are exposed to overheating.

Lithium-based batteries are highly flammable and capable of ignition. Lithium battery fires can be caused when a battery:

  • short circuits,
  • is improperly charged,
  • is heated to extreme temperatures,
  • is damaged as a result of a crash,
  • is mishandled, or
  • is simply defective.

Safe Transportation

Given that lithium batteries are at risk of combustion and ignition, special care must be taken when these batteries are transported.

Batteries being transported that are not currently installed in the unmanned aircraft should be individually protected so as to prevent short circuits. This may be accomplished by placing the battery in the original retail packaging, insulating terminals by placing electrical tape over them, or placing each battery in a separate plastic bag or protective pouch.

Lithium batteries should be inspected before and after transportation, as well as before being installed into the unmanned aircraft. The user should check for any external damage or any other condition that may cause the battery to malfunction.

Safe Charging

As previously stated, lithium batteries at risk of combustion when they are exposed to overheating, overcharging, or are otherwise defective. To mitigate these risks, the user should follow all manufacturer guidelines and instructions for charging and handling lithium batteries.

Safe Usage

Lithium-based batteries are highly flammable and capable of ignition. A battery fire could cause an in-flight emergency by causing a loss of control of the sUAS. In addition to the risks previously stated, Lithium battery fires can be caused if the lithium battery is damaged as a result of a crash, mishandled, or simply defective. The Remote PIC should consider following the manufacturer’s recommendations, when available, to help ensure safe battery handling and usage.