What You Need To Know About The Transport Of Dangerous Goods By Air

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What You Need To Know About The Transport Of Dangerous Goods By Air

Every year more than 1.25 million dangerous goods shipments are transported by air. With air cargo growth predicted at 4.9% every year over the next 5 years the number of dangerous goods shipments will rise significantly. With so many dangerous goods being shipped by air, safety regulations must be followed precisely. IATA  helps identify the risks and works with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) to amend the regulations providing stakeholders with the most current guidelines on how to handle and ship dangerous goods safely. 

What are Dangerous Goods

It’s important to know what a dangerous good is before you ship. According to IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) Manual, “Dangerous goods (also known as hazardous materials or hazmat) are articles or substances which are capable of posing a hazard to health, safety, property or the environment and which are shown in the list of dangerous goods in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations or which are classified according to those Regulations.” Because IATA participates in strict regulatory process, dangerous goods can be transported by air safely and securely when these guidelines are closely followed. 

What Are Examples of Dangerous Goods 

Most transport of dangerous goods is handled by shippers who are knowledgeable in the area of shipping hazmat. For many travelers, however, it is unknown what types of things are considered dangerous goods. Some examples of  dangerous goods are aerosols, lithium batteries, infectious substances, fireworks, dry-ice, gasoline powered engines and machinery, lighters, and paint. (table from 4.2) 

Why Dangerous Goods training is necessary

Because safety is IATA’s number one concern,  dangerous goods training is required for all persons across the entire supply chain who prepare, offer, accept and handle dangerous goods. This dangerous goods training must be renewed every two years. IATA makes obtaining this training easy and accessible to everyone who needs it by offering courses and yearly manuals so that stakeholders can be up-to-date on the most current rules and regulations. IATA’s desire to keep aviation safe is the driving force behind ensuring the regulations are met by adequately training all parties involved in the transport of dangerous goods . Whether you are shipper, freight forwarder, a cargo acceptance agent, cabin crew member or anything in between you can find up-to-date information on training for dangerous goods in our training section.

What Are IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations

IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations are rules outlined in an easy-to-read manual that is based on the International Civil Aviation Organizations (ICAO)’s instructions for the safe transport for dangerous goods. IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations also include the United Nations classification of each article or substance and their acceptability and conditions for air transport. IATA takes the safety guidelines of these two entities, ICAO and the UN, a step further, ensuring the highest safety protocols are followed. 

How Often Are The IATA Regulations Updated

While ICAO updates its regulations every two years, IATA recognizes that significant changes take place year to year, and the need for updated information is necessary to stay in touch with safety protocols. The need to stay current with the individual country and airline restrictions, which can be more restrictive than ICAO regulations, require more up-to-date information. This is why IATA updates its manual every year, including the latest IATA regulations and changes to procedures.

What Are The Dangerous Goods Classes

The United Nations assigns dangerous goods to one of nine classes, and every dangerous goods will fall into at least one of the classes. It is essential to classify dangerous goods correctly so that the hazard(s) posed are communicated through the transport chain. The dangerous goods classes are as follows: 

  • Class 1—Explosives
  • Class 2—Gases
  • Class 3—Flammable Liquids
  • Class 4—Flammable Solids; Substances Liable to Spontaneous Combustion; Substances which, in Contact with Water Emit Flammable Gases
  • Class 5—Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides
  • Class 6—Toxic and Infectious Substances
  • Class 7—Radioactive Material
  • Class 8—Corrosives
  • Class 9—Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances and Articles, Including Environmentally Hazardous Substances


How Are Dangerous Goods Identified?

Depending on a hazardous material’s classification and composition, it will be assigned a UN number and a proper shipping name.

IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulation Manual (DGR) contains a list of approximately 3,000 articles and substances that are commonly shipped by air. This list includes names for listed entries such as paint and ethanol as well as generic “not otherwise specified” (n.o.s.) entries that cover a chemical family or group of related substances, such as alcohols, n.o.s. and environmentally hazardous substance, liquid, n.o.s.. (


How Are Dangerous Goods Transported By Air

For hazmat to be shipped by air, there are specific procedures to be met. First, the shipper must meet their criteria, such as declaring the shipment as dangerous goods, properly completing the Dangerous Goods Declaration, and adequately preparing the shipment for transport. Then the cargo acceptance procedures are carefully enacted. Using the Dangerous Goods Checklist will make sure that what the shipper has submitted complies with the Dangerous Goods Regulations. 

Next, the operator must go over the Dangerous Goods Checklist and ensure all regulations are met within those guidelines (see IATA’s Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) for more information. 

While dangerous goods storage and handling occur throughout the proceeding, the loading process comes next. It is important not to store or load certain dangerous goods next to one another and never next to food items. All packaging must be secured, as well as other items being shipped so that they do not shift during transport and fall into the dangerous goods causing damage to their packaging. (9.3.5)

Top 3 Dangerous Goods Transported Each Year

Out of the over 1.25 million packages of hazmat shipped each year, three types of dangerous goods stand out. These are items that are most commonly shipped, being flammable liquids, dry-ice, and lithium batteries. Dry ice is widely used as a refrigerant for goods such as frozen foods and pharmaceuticals, including vaccines. 

Who Is Involved In The Transport Of Dangerous Goods And What Are Their Responsibilities

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