You thought the Federal Aviation Administration was picky before, about the things you can carry onto an airplane? Brace yourself for this one. According to Richard Macomber, chairman of the air transportation committee of the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL), the FAA is starting to take a look at rechargeable lithium ion batteries-that's right, the ones in your cell phones, laptops and PDAs. Prompted by several incidents on aircraft in 2004 and 2005, FAA's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has issued a proposed ruling stating that non-rechargeable lithium batteries, the kind used in large computer rooms, can catch fire and must therefore be banned from passenger planes. But the agency also is looking into the rechargeable variety, which would have a far greater impact on the traveling public. Both NITL and the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association are challenging those preliminary findings, and the PRBA is doing its own tests, says Macomber. The FAA has promised to take another look at the matter. (For more concerns of Macomber and NITL's air transportation committee, see our Industry Report in this issue.)
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