Envy-inducing pics ahoy: Drones in check-in bags & batteries upto 160 Wh in hand bags allowed now

Envy-inducing pics ahoy: Drones in check-in bags & batteries upto 160 Wh in hand bags allowed now


NEW DELHI: You can now fly with your small to medium size drones to click great vacation pictures at domestic destinations where these unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can be operated as per rules. Drones (without battery) will mostly need to be in check-in bags and batteries (of upto certain wattage) only in cabin bags.
For international trips, rules of destination countries will apply. A senior aviation ministry official said passengers should inform airlines when they are going to travel with a drone.
“While there are no major restrictions for carrying drones either as checked-in or carry on baggage, major airlines as a matter of extraordinary precaution allow drones in check-in baggage. It is because of individual airline policy and not a regulatory requirement. However, when drones are accepted as check-in baggage, batteries need to removed and carried in carry-on baggage only,” said a senior aviation ministry official.
“For spare batteries, there are no restrictions if they are of less than 100 Watt-hour (Wh). Maximum of two batteries if the Wh is more than 100 but less than 160 Wh with the approval of airlines. No spare batteries are allowed if Wh is more than 160,” the official added.
The clarification on drone carriage comes at a time when airlines now routinely get queries from passengers about the same. An IndiGo spokesperson said: “As per the conditions of carriage drones can be carried in check-in luggage. However, batteries are not allowed in check-in. Passengers are asked to carry batteries in hand luggage. The limit is upto 160 Wh for lithium battery.”
While the senior ministry official said it is advisable to carry nano drones — the most common ones for personal use weighing upto 250 grams — in cabin bags, most big airlines don’t allow the same. Nano drones have lithium-ion batteries. Due to potential fire risk, batteries are not allowed in check-in bags. Also security will detect lithium during inline screening and will offload the bag.
A risk assessment was done for carriage of big drones. Accordingly it was decided that drones with batteries of over 160 Wh must be carried as cargo. However still the risk is that in passenger baggage due to handling and movement, lithium can catch fire. Hence most airlines allow the same to travel in cabin baggage as crew are trained to handle any incident of fire or smoke in cabin due to lithium.
So ideally, the government official said, small drones with battery attached be carried in cabin bags; bigger drones in cabin bags and their lithium batteries also in cabin with proper insulation and large drones with batteries over 160 Wh in cargo with proper smoke detection and fire suppression in place.
India has classified drones into five categories based on their weight: Nano upto 250 grams; micro between 250 gram and 2 kg; small between 2 and 25 kg; medium between 25 and 150 kg and large weighing over 150 kg.





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