Travelling Safely with Batteries

Oct 24, 2019

With sailors regularly travelling by air to participate in events, one of the most frequent questions asked is how to travel with batteries. This information from the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority helps to provide some guidance.

Did you know?

We use batteries to charge most of our portable electronic devices (PEDs) as well as use them in our RC yachts, but they can have serious safety consequences if they're not carried correctly when you're flying.

This happened in 2014 in Melbourne when undeclared lithium batteries were packed into a passenger’s checked bag and short-circuited, igniting a fire in the aircraft’s cargo hold before passengers boarded the flight to Fiji. Click here for the report.

How to carry batteries safely

Watch the CASA safety video - travelling safely with lithium batteries, to learn how to carry everyday batteries safely. Click here to view the video.

Batteries under 100Wh rating

The batteries that power your boat, transmitter, phone, laptop and camera are usually under the 100 watt-hour (Wh) rating. If you're carrying a spare battery that's not in one of these devices, it must be in your carry-on baggage only. Spare batteries, regardless of their size are not to be carried in checked luggage.

It is not recommended to leave batteries
in transmitters or boats - Ed!

Lithium Ion batteries 100-160Wh rating

These are more powerful batteries, and can be found in industrial equipment such as power tools and mobility aids between 100 and 160Wh, they are not generally used for radio sailing (however you should check). You must have approval from your airline before flying.

If the battery is installed in a device, it can be carried in either checked or carry-on baggage. (It is not recommended to leave batteries in transmitters or boats).
If the battery is a spare - that is, the battery is by itself and not contained in equipment - it must be in your carry-on baggage only.

Spare batteries, regardless of their size are not to be carried in checked luggage.

There is a limit of two spare batteries per person. These batteries must only be packed in carry-on luggage and should have their terminals individually protected to minimise the risk of contact other metal objects in your luggage.

How to protect your battery from short circuits

Short-circuiting batteries have been responsible for numerous on-board fires, so it’s important that all spare batteries have their terminals protected properly.

You can do this by:

  • Keeping batteries in original retail packaging or
  • Insulating the battery terminals by taping over exposed terminals or
  • Placing each battery in a separate plastic bag or protective pouch.

These techniques are also demonstrated in the CASA safety video above.

What’s your watt-hour rating (Wh)?

Most modern batteries have the watt-hour rating (Wh) displayed on their casing so you can see how powerful they are. Some older models might not have their watt-hour rating clearly displayed but you should be able to see the voltage and amp hour which will make calculating the watt-hour simple.

To calculate your battery’s watt-hour rating, you multiply the voltage (V) by the amp hour (Ah).

For example, a 12 volt battery with a 5 amp hour rating will be 60 watt-hours. V x Ah = Wh.

If the battery is rated in milli-amp hours (mAh), divide your final answer by 1000 to arrive at the watt-hours. V x mAh / 1000 = Wh. For example, a 6 volt; 2500 mah battery will be 6 x 2500/1000 = 15 Wh.

Looking after your batteries

Damaged batteries can be dangerous. Whether they’re dropped, smashed, overheated or mistreated in other ways, lithium batteries can become unstable and have been known to ignite fires due to mistreatment. Batteries show clear signs of being unhealthy. Such signs include:

  • Bulging
  • Discolouration
  • Squashed/deformed
  • Spilt case
  • Leaking fluid

If your battery shows any of these signs, it should be replaced. It’s also a good idea not to travel with your batteries fully charged. Keeping charge levels at 40-70% will keep the particles that store energy in their most stable state during travel, minimising the risk of thermal runaway.

Batteries don't last forever and it’s important to monitor them. Continual discharges, over-charges and quick-charges will eventually reduce the battery’s overall capacity and health.

Example 1 - discolouration


Example 2 - bulging caused by overcharging


Example 3 - split casing


Example 4 - the difference between new and old batteries


The information provided in this article has been sourced from the CASA website ( Information provided is to be used as a guide only. This information relates to travel within Australia, for other countries policies may vary. If you are in any doubt, it is recommended that you contact your airline.


Category: General
Posted by: ARYA Publicity