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Understand the rules for taking drones and batteries on air travel

With the popularization of drones, many users wonder about the restrictions on taking these "aircraft" on trips involving air routes. The main reason for the restrictions is not just the drone itself, but especially the battery issue. This question also holds true for a number of other electronic devices.

In this article I will give you some tips on this subject, which you should consider when planning to travel and bring a drone, camera, power bank or other gadget. By now, I will clarify that at least in these examples everything is related to batteries and not to the gadget itself! Therefore, you should not worry that you are carrying a drone, but because it has a battery. She is the X of the matter.

Any battery-powered device must be carried in the carry-on luggage.

All restrictions related to aircraft batteries are based on the problems already reported by the equipment. This refers to when they end up with a defect and "explode". Who doesn't remember the famous case of Galaxy Note 7? The smartphone had a problem with batteries "exploding" in the week of its official release, forcing a worldwide recall by Samsung in one of history's most iconic cases. This problem could easily have broken a company, which was not due to the strength that Korea has in the market. There are a number of other products that have similar problems, largely because they are associated with poor build quality. The famous hoverboards are among the latest gadgets that are banned on airplanes, the "electric skateboards" can not be carried even in the luggage let alone checked.

The considerations in this article apply to both domestic and international flights.

What allowed to take

First let's clarify one important point, the basic rule: "Not allowed to ship batteries in bags." Therefore, what you should do carry in the suitcase (backpack / purse / etc). The reason? In case of any possible problem with the battery, the access is to avoid a bigger problem faster. Something that could not be done if the batteries had their bags checked, which are in a compartment underneath the plane.

In addition, there are limitations on the capacity and quantity of batteries that can be carried with a passenger inside an airplane. In addition, of course, to the amount of weight allowed in hand luggage. Below is the information that should be considered:

– Batteries 100 Watts hour can be carried in any quantity for your own use. 100 and 159 watts hour, maximum 2 units per passenger- Charging Batteries above 160 watts hour not allowed to take on aircraft

Newer batteries provide information on the amount of Watts per hour, but older models may not have this information available.

Below is the example with a photo of the Mavic Air drone battery. Not highlighted in yellow is information about the specifications of the battery you have. 27.43 Watts hour and 2375 mAh (capacity). If the battery does not have the Watts hour information, you should do the calculation. For this, it is necessary to take the amperage (mAh) and multiply by the nominal voltage (V) which is highlighted in red.

Again, in the case of the Mavic Air battery, the calculation would be: 2.375 (amperage) x 11.55 (nominal voltage) = 27.43 (Watts hour)

Practical experience

On our photographic trip to Iceland, I took a Mavic 2 Pro with 3 batteries, but also several other electronic gadgets, such as the drone control itself. Among the equipment I carried were two smartphones, two action cams, a gimbal and a powerbank. Mentioning only those with an associated battery. In the photo below you can see the amount of technological "junk" that I took along, but only what had battery was up in the carry-on. Something you would do even if you could ship it, at least for the most expensive, you know?

We leave from Floripa Airport to Guarulhos in So Paulo, then to London and then to Reykjavic, the capital of Iceland. We made the same route on the way back. At no time we had questions about any of the components, apart from the notebook, this was the only one that had to leave exposed outside the backpack every time. At times I even reported that I had a drone and batteries in a bag with the action cams, gimbal and powerbank, but they said it had no problem, they even opened it.

One thing I did to be reassured by the amount of products I carried was to "empty" all the batteries leaving them empty. This is because if you were ever questioned about having too many batteries, it could show that they were dead and would not be a problem. But in the end at none of the airports and inspections I was stopped, or they said anything about it. Of course, professional photographers carry far more equipment, and my concern was more about inexperience and because I wanted to avoid something being held back and complicating the travel proposal, which was to capture all that was possible from Iceland through the lenses of various gadgets.

Reading reports over the internet there are situations where some inspector may find something strange or even on a bad day, where details such as discharged batteries or even knowledge of the laws can be important. This is especially because in some places the latest gadgets can raise doubts about the misinformation about the legislation they fit.

Each country has a drone law

When it comes to drones, it is important to be aware of the legislation of the country you are visiting, as they may differ from those in Brazil. By the way, we have a very complete article explaining the whole process of flying a drone within Brazilian law.

Again, to cite Iceland as an example, in many places where we have been, drones are prohibited. As it is a country much visited by photography lovers, drones are quite common and many of the tourist places have signs highlighting the rules related to this gadget. Unlike in the country we have been to, there are places where the restrictions are not clearly visible and a quick flight can cause a lot of inconvenience. It is recommended to do some research before, after all nobody wants to ruin the trip by getting something withheld, paying a fine or maybe even something worse.

One of the big problems is related to the potential of a drone to capture images in unauthorized places, we have dozens of cases of problems with people who end up having problems with flying drones in unauthorized places, knowing or not the restriction as in these two cases. : "YouTuber arrested for trying to break into Area 51 with friend" and "Australian couple arrested on Iran after illegal drone flight".

I hope this information helps anyone in doubt about traveling with gadgets, especially drones and others with batteries. It is best to always be informed about the rules, the most basic of all never raise a drone in urban areas with high concentration of people, and of course near places like airports, federal agencies among others.

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