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Flying with ROVs and Drones - Know the Rules

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Handy Reference for Air travel with links

Are you planning to travel with your drone or ROV? Don't let the excitement of your adventure blind you to the rules and regulations governing air travel. Before you pack your gear, it's important to know what you can and cannot bring on board.

International rules, such as those set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and country-specific regulations, like those enforced by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), can vary greatly. In addition, individual airlines may have their own policies on what is allowed in carry-on and checked baggage.

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We recently travelled from Tasmania to the Gold Coast in Australia and had two batteries with us. They were both lithium polymer batteries 14.8V, 10Ah. According to IATA and our countries civil aviation authority CASA, we were allowed to bring them on board the plane as carry- on. We approached the security scanning desk at Hobart International Airport and to our surprise were told that we could not travel with them. The option was to not travel or leave our batteries behind. As it turns out, after some confusion and lost time, we were allowed to carry them on board, with the help of our airline Jetstar.

This confusion made us realise that not all staff at every airport may be up to date on what batteries you can carry on or not. It pays to have something on your phone to reference the rules in case you get in a situation like we did. It could save you a lot of time. Below, we have included links to some airlines policies on the carriage of batteries. Be aware that the same airline travelling to a different country may also have different rules. Please do not rely on this information - do your own research. Rules change and be prepared, polite and sometimes, like in our case, be persistent!

check out our underwater drones here Here are some things to keep in mind when traveling with your ROV or drone:

1.Battery type and Watt hours

The first thing you need to know is what type of battery your device uses and its watt-hour rating. This information will help you determine whether you can bring your device on board or if you need to check it in. Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used for drones and ROVs and are subject to restrictions when traveling by air. Watt hours (Wh) are determined by multiplying the voltage (V) by the amp hours (Ah). ie. 12V x 5Ah = 60Wh

2.Number of Batteries Most airlines have restrictions on the number of lithium-ion batteries that can be carried on board, the size of the battery, and the watt-hour rating. It is important to check with your airline to find out what their specific restrictions are, as they can vary from airline to airline.

3.Battery Weight and Size

The weight and size of the batteries are also important considerations when traveling with an ROV or drone. If the batteries are not removable, you need to make sure that the total weight of the device, including the batteries, is within the airline's weight restrictions for carry-on luggage. If you need to check the device, you also need to ensure that you are complying with airline rules as generally batteries CANNOT be checked in.

4.Check Your Airline Dangerous Goods Links

It is always a good idea to check the airline's website for their dangerous goods guidelines. The guidelines will provide information on what items are prohibited or restricted on board and what the rules are for carrying lithium-ion batteries. Airlines have different rules.

5.Consider Packing the Batteries Separately

If you can remove the batteries, it is a good idea to pack them separately in your carry-on luggage. This will make it easier for security officials to inspect them, and it can also reduce the risk of damage to your device during the screening process.

6.Use a Battery Storage Bag

It is recommended that you use a battery storage bag to store your batteries during travel. These bags are designed to contain any fire or smoke that may occur if the battery is damaged or malfunctioning. They can also help protect the batteries from damage during transport.

7.Get a Battery Discharge Certificate

Some airlines may require a battery discharge certificate for lithium-ion batteries that exceed a certain watt-hour rating. This certificate confirms that the battery has been discharged to a safe level before travel, reducing the risk of fire or explosion.

Traveling with an ROV or drone by air requires careful planning and preparation. The most important thing is to do your research and check with your airline regarding their specific guidelines for carrying these devices and their batteries. By following the tips mentioned above, will help - that your device and its batteries are transported safely and securely.

Pacific Coastal Airlines:

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