So the box of batteries for my Surefire E2D LED Defender Flashlight came in, and this is how it looked straight off the truck…

Lithium Batteries Warning

Lithium Batteries Warning

Wow. Apparently these little batteries are real trouble in certain situations.

The official reason for this sticker according to the TSA/FAA is that

“…the Federal Aviation Administration has studied fire hazards associated with both primary and lithium-ion cells… as a result of this research, the FAA no longer allows large, palletized shipments of these batteries to be transported as cargo on passenger aircraft.  The research also shows that an explosion will not result from shorting or damaging either lithium-ion or primary lithium batteries. Both are, however, extremely flammable. Primary lithium batteries cannot be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft, whereas lithium-ion batteries are easily extinguished by most common extinguishing agents, including those carried on board commercial aircraft.”

and from Airliners.net

“Lithium batteries are prohibited from aircraft because of the components of the battery require it to be sealed. Lithium reacts violently with nitrogen, and water specifically requiring the batteries to be hemetrically sealed. Because the batteries have to be sealed they become an explosion problem due to overheating from a short.”

Primary lithium batteries, the non-rechargable kind, is what I got. So if this box caught fire, it couldn’t be extinguished with firefighting agents normally carried on aircraft. That would be bad.

FedEx even has a “Dangerous Goods Specialist” that puts a  “PRIMARY LITHIUM BATTERIES — FORBIDDEN FOR TRANSPORT ABOARD PASSENGER AIRCRAFT” sticker [PDF] for their boxes too.

I really love my SureFire flashlight, but now I wonder if I will be allowed to fly with it as carry on or as checked luggage.