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Thread: Flying with a ZX-1 and/or Firefly

  1. #1
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    Flying with a ZX-1 and/or Firefly

    I originally posted this under the Equiment thread Flying with a ZX-1 post #533, but think this is a better place for it, because it is also about the Firefly. This post is mostly about batteries, but I also may be asking some more questions about packing the ZX-1 and Firefly for travel.

    I’ve been looking into the rules for batteries as they apply to the ZX-1 and Firefly. Below is what I have found, along with some comments and questions. I’ve also commented on Gordy1’s post that was on the other thread.

    This is all rather confusing, because the rules can be different for each airline. We have not yet booked our flights, and depending on the rules, may choose one airline over another. I also want to be ready in case they change the rules, or we get someone who does not understand them, while we are travelling. I’ve had that has happened often enough that I don’t want to be unprepared.

    IATA Battery Rules
    Because all airlines can interpret the rules a bit differently, I wanted to check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) official rules about batteries. It's hard to find these documents because they are normally purchased on the IATA website (expensive).

    This is the IATA overview of What Passengers Can Carry. I found the section in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations that covers wheelchairs: IATA 2013 DGR Subsection 2 3. I've copyied the sectionis that apply to the ZX-1 and the Firefly. For the Firefly, also helpful is the IATA Lithium Battery Guidance Document - 2013.

    ZX-1 Batteries
    12 volt, 15 ah (2). AGM. 5-hr. capacity = 12.75 ah (from ZX-1 Operators Manual). I think this is the battery shipped with the ZX-1, the MK Battery ES12-12 and the charger is MK Model: LS 24/4.




    Battery-powered wheelchairs or other similar mobility devices with non-spillable wet batteries or with batteries which comply with Special Provision A123, (see 2.3.2.2).
    I the ZX-1 Operators Manual it says:
    use only sealed AGM non-spillable batteries that meet DOT CFR 173.159 (d), IATA Packing Instructions 806, and IATA Provision A67
    I found this Wheelchair Battery Transportation Policy on the MK Battery web site. It states on the back of the battery that it is “non-spillable”, which means that it rated non-spillable by ICAO, IATA and DOT, meaning no special containers are needed.
    2.3.2.2 Wheelchairs/Mobility Aids with Non-spillable Wet Batteries or with Batteries which Comply with Special Provision A123 Battery-powered wheelchairs or other similar mobility aids for use by passengers whose mobility is restricted by either a disability, their health or age, or a temporary mobility problem (e.g. broken leg), with non-spillable wet batteries or with batteries which comply with Special Provision A123:
    (a) non-spillable batteries must comply with Special Provision A67 or the vibration and pressure differential tests of Packing Instruction 872;
    (b) the operator must verify that:
    (1) the battery terminals must be are protected from short circuits, e.g. by being enclosed within a battery container;
    I am assuming that the carbon fiber cover will suffice for this. Will electrical tape need to be placed over the terminals?
    (2) the battery must be is securely attached to the wheelchair or mobility aid. (see 9.3.16.4 and Figure 9.3.H);
    (3) electrical circuits have been Inhibited.
    Does this just mean disconnecting the power module cable?
    (c) Operators must ensure that wheelchairs or other battery-powered mobility aids are carried in such a manner so as to prevent unintentional operation and that the wheelchair/mobility aid must be carried such that it is protected from being damaged by the movement of baggage, mail, stores or cargo;
    (d) where a battery- powered or other similar mobility aid is specifically designed to allow its battery(ies) to be removed by the user (e.g. collapsible):
    I am assuming that this does not apply for the ZX-1, and the batteries can be kept on the equipment.
    (1) the battery(ies) must be removed. The wheelchair / mobility aid may then be carried as checked baggage without restriction;
    (2) the removed battery(ies) must be carried in strong, rigid packagings which must be carried in the cargo compartment;
    (3) the battery(ies) must be protected from short circuit;
    (4) the pilot-in-command must be informed of the location of the packed battery; and
    (e) It is recommended that passengers make advance arrangements with each operator.

    Firefly Batteries

    24V 10Ah Lithium Polymer battery (from Firefly User Manual). In the manual it says "custom hi-power lithium polymer battery", so I am not sure what the brand or model is, but I think it is probably out of Shenzhen in China.



    Battery-powered mobility aids with lithium ion batteries (collapsible) , lithium-ion battery must be removed and carried in the cabin (see 2.3.2.4(d) for details).
    2.3.2.4 Wheelchairs/Mobility Aids with Lithium Batteries Lithium-ion battery powered wheelchairs or other similar mobility aids for use by passengers whose mobility is restricted by either a disability, their health or age, or a temporary mobility problem (e.g. broken leg), subject to the following conditions:
    (a) the batteries must be of a type which meets the requirements of each test in the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, Part III, subsection 38.3;
    (b) the operator must verify that:
    (1) battery terminals are protected from short circuits, e.g. by being enclosed within a battery container,
    (2) the battery must be securely attached to the wheelchair or mobility aid; and
    (3) electrical circuits have been inhibited.
    (c) the mobility aids must be carried in a manner such that they are protected from being damaged by the movement of baggage, mail, or other cargo;
    (d) where a battery powered or other similar mobility aid is specifically designed to allow its battery(ies) to be removed by the user (e.g. collapsible)
    (1) the battery(ies) must be removed. The wheelchair / mobility aid may then be carried as checked baggage without restriction;
    I think I had better plan that they might make us remove the battery. I really don’t want to carry a 5 lb. battery on board, along with all of our other stuff, so I hope the previous rules will apply.
    (2) the battery(ies) must be protected from short circuit by insulating the terminals (e.g. by taping over exposed terminals);
    It looks to me like there are no exposed terminals. I’ll bring electrical tape just to be sure.
    (3) the removed battery(ies) must be protected from damage (e.g.) by placing each battery in a protective pouch. The battery(ies) must be carried in the passenger cabin;
    Do you think wrapping the battery in bubble wrap is sufficient for carrying onboard? I’ve seen that they may put a lithium battery handling label, so I would want something covering it.
    (4) removal of the battery from the device must be performed by following the instructions of the manufacturer or device owner;
    (5) the battery must not exceed 300 Wh;
    From what I can interpret, the watt-hour rating for the Firefly battery is 10Ah x 24V = 240 Wh [Ah x V = Wh].
    (6) a maximum of one spare battery not exceeding 300 Wh or two spares each not exceeding 160 Wh may be carried; and
    Not that we plan to do it, but this would mean that one spare battery could be carried onboard.
    (e) the pilot-in- command must be informed of the location of the mobility aid with an installed battery or the location of the lithium battery when removed and carried in the cabin.
    (f) It is recommended that passengers make advance arrangements with each operator.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gordy1 View Post
    We too are planning to fly with my son's Firefly in the near future. I will be dismantling the Firefly so that it can be packed in a bag, and checked in. I specifically asked the airline about the Lithium battery, and here is their response:

    "Battery-powered wheelchairs or other similar mobility devices with spillable batteries or with lithium batteries. Provided that the wheelchair or mobility aid can be loaded, stowed, secured and unloaded always in an upright position then the battery may remain installed in the wheelchair. The battery terminals must be protected from short circuits, e.g. by being enclosed within a battery container, and the battery must be securely attached to the wheelchair or mobility aid.

    We already put a note on your booking that you will be bringing a lithium battery as a checked baggage."

    So the first part of the response isn't really relevant to us, as the battery will be separate from the Firefly. But I intend to have the battery available to show at check-in, to prove that the terminals can't be short-circuited, then put it back in the bag.
    I was somewhat surprised that they are not considering the battery as what I would think would be “collapsible” for the Firefly, and that they are not making you remove it and carry it on. I would prefer to check the battery also, so I hope they will check it on our flights also.

    Do you just plan to use something like a large duffel bag? If you have the dimensions of the bag you would be using, that would be helpful. I’m not sure we are going to get the Firefly before I need to book the flights and make the arrangements.
    Last edited by elarson; 06-14-2013 at 08:36 AM. Reason: Fixing all the quotes.
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

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    Hi elarson,

    The Firefly was sent to us direct from RioMobility, via air. The battery came packaged in a sort of "foam box", that I intend to re-use on our upcoming flight, as it will protect the terminals (which are inset into the base of the battery, so very hard to short-circuit anyway). Electrical tape would do the job too, but the foam will protect the whole battery casing. Obviously the fact that RioMobility ship them via air, and the batteries are packaged within the rest of the box, shows that the airlines don't get too concerned with these batteries being stowed in the holds of planes!

    I will have the email from the airline with me, showing that they are expecting me to show them the battery, and then I intend putting the battery back into my baggage and checking it in. If they decide I need to take it in the cabin, then I can, but I wouldn't really want to, like you.

    As for the bag for the rest of the Firefly, I need to test that out this weekend. I'm hoping to get it into a bag we already have, but may need to buy a larger one. Then I will slap some wheelchair stickers on the bag, as we found on a previous flight that they tend not to include the weight of disability equipment within your baggage allowance, which means that we don't get any additional charges. I'm not sure that would happen in the US though, from our experience last year!

    One other thing to add. A couple of years ago we brought an electric scooter (Razor E300 - you can see how I had it hooked up to my son's chair in the kids equipment stickie), and took on on a plane back to Australia. It has two of those sealed batteries similar to those pictured in your post for the ZX-1. Nobody at check-in asked anything about the batteries, and the whole assembly was checked in with no problem, within a bag....
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

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    Lithium batteries

    E-motion power assist wheels also use lithium batteries. Prior to my flights in March, my DME showed me how to remove the batteries. He said even if the airline was okay with lithium batteries on the chair, power assist wheels don't have a way to "lock" to prevent turning on.

    I was flying on Delta and didn't even think to check prior to purchasing my ticket about any rules for lithium batteries. When I was at the gate the pilot & gate agent informed me it is the airlines policy that NO lithium batteries be carried just as the battery aboard the plane (only okay if in laptop, etc). Thankfully the pilot understood my dilemma and he made an exception for the batteries to go on plane with me. I've since seen other airlines advertise they have no issues with the batteries on board with you.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by sledgrl View Post
    E-motion power assist wheels also use lithium batteries. Prior to my flights in March, my DME showed me how to remove the batteries. He said even if the airline was okay with lithium batteries on the chair, power assist wheels don't have a way to "lock" to prevent turning on.

    I was flying on Delta and didn't even think to check prior to purchasing my ticket about any rules for lithium batteries. When I was at the gate the pilot & gate agent informed me it is the airlines policy that NO lithium batteries be carried just as the battery aboard the plane (only okay if in laptop, etc). Thankfully the pilot understood my dilemma and he made an exception for the batteries to go on plane with me. I've since seen other airlines advertise they have no issues with the batteries on board with you.
    Rules were in a state of flux sometime over a year ago before I imported my lithium battery. For a time before then there was a moratorium on no air shipments of lithium batteries and now the "stricter" regs.
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

  5. #5
    Senior Member DaleB's Avatar
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    This is something I would consider shipping to my destination. For convenience, security, and insurability. Well, I've shipped basic luggage before, just to avoid the check, so I may be weird.
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    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    We are already paying shipping costs of 665.00 to get the ZX-1 and Firefly from Atlanta, and I think it would cost even more to Chicago. Just not in the budget to ship it, but you are probably right about it being better.
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

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    Just for info, it only cost $180 to get the Firefly shipped (ie flown) from the US to Australia (organised by RioMobility). I was pretty happy with that price, and the short time it took to get here.
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

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    Elarson,

    Photos of Firefly taken apart and put into a bag...it can be done! Only takes a few minutes to do once you work out which bits to take apart / loosen.

    I intend packing it into a large plastic bag before putting it in this bag again for travel. Then packing clothes around it to prevent any major damage during transit.
    Gordon, father of son who became t6 paraplegic at the age of 4 in 2007 as a result of surgery to remove a spinal tumour.

  9. #9
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    The biggest part of our shipping cost was the ZX-1. I think the Firefly was only an extra $150 US.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gordy1 View Post
    Just for info, it only cost $180 to get the Firefly shipped (ie flown) from the US to Australia (organised by RioMobility). I was pretty happy with that price, and the short time it took to get here.
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

  10. #10
    Senior Member elarson's Avatar
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    Many thanks Gordy1. If you get the chance, can you tell me the length of your bag? We have a few like yours, and I'm hoping one of them will work. We will also do the clothes padding.
    Partner of an incredible stroke survivor. Limitations: hemiparesis and neglect (functional paralysis and complete lack of awareness on one side). Equipment: TiLite ZRA 2 and 2GX, Spinergy ZX-1, RioMobility Firefly. Knowledge: relative newbie for high-level equipment (2012), but willing to try to help others who are new with similar limitations (definitely not a guru, but inquisitive).

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