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Aviation Info

Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Air

  • Relese Date:2016-01-15
  • Source:NASC
  1. Introduction

    “Safety” is deemed as the “universal value”. It is especially so for the aviation industry as this industry pursues high safety standards. Due to the “high risk” of this industry, professionals of this industry shall have stronger sense of responsibilities and ambition to reduce the risks confronted by the civil aviation industry. Despite the enhancement of our performance in aviation safety, there is still a room for our country to further improve our transport of dangerous goods by air.

  2. Classification of Dangerous Goods

    According to the “Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air” of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and “Dangerous Goods Regulation (DGR)” of International Air Transport Association (IATA), dangerous goods are divided into nine classes including explosives; gases; flammable liquids; flammable solids (substances liable to spontaneous combustion; substances which, on contact with water, emit flammable gases); oxidizing substances and organic peroxides; toxic and infectious substances; radioactive material; corrosive substances; miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles.

  3. Restrictions on the Transport of Dangerous Goods

    In regard to the transport of dangerous goods by air, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has promulgated “Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air” to impose restrictions thereon according to the types and peacekeeping level of dangerous goods. In general, the said restrictions can be divided into three categories as:

    1. No air transport is allowed: dangerous goods that can easily explode; create dangerous reactions; produce flammable or dangerous high temperature; distribute toxic, corrosive or flammable gas, steams or any other substances during normal delivery conditions must not be transported by the aircraft in any conditions. General speaking, the said goods belong to those of Class 1 to 6. Unless the departure, special transportation and destination related management units of another country releases a permit to accept the delivery, transportations made by the general civil aircraft for business will be rejected. Apart from legal regulations, some countries and airlines have imposed restrictions based on their considerations. This kind of restrictions is known as “variations”.
    2. Aircraft operation required items: some of the dangerous objects are placed on board as an equipment or accessory required for the airworthiness or as a duty free sale or service item (Dangerous Goods in Operator’s Property). Therefore, despite being classified as dangerous goods, they can be deemed as exceptions for dangerous goods of the operators if in compliance with the following conditions: those that comply with aircraft component related requirements for airworthiness or relevant business regulations. For example, fuel, life raft, emergency escape ladder, oxygen generator, compressed gas cylinder, first aid kit and signal flare. However, if these items are used as a replacement instead being installed on the aircraft, they shall be handled according to the transport rules of dangerous goods. Similarly, aerosols, alcoholic beverages, perfumes, colognes, safety matches and liquefied gas lighters that are carried on board for use or sale during the flight are also allowed. The operator may also keep some dry ice for use in food and beverage service aboard the aircraft.
    3. Hidden dangerous goods: generally speaking, “hidden dangerous goods” may refer to two conditions. First, the owner or shipper does not know the transported goods are dangerous, or; they know that the goods are dangerous, but have misunderstood the transportation method (such as the limitations of passenger or cargo aircraft) and mistakenly handled it. For example, some of the dangerous goods are declared as general products and fail to pass through the X-ray machine to confirm the content. Therefore, not only are the potential hazards of these dangerous goods often ignored, but also these goods are not properly declared and can sometimes be loaded on the aircraft mistakenly. However, it is hard to notice the said hidden risk, unless there is any significant issue. By taking the aircraft component as an example, if the engine fuel pump is already contaminated with the fuel and the component itself also contains a small amount of fuel, it is a must to pack it as the class 9 “miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles” with marks on it. However, the fuel pump and other aircraft pumps have little difference between their appearances, people often transport them as general component mistakenly. The fuel pump in the aircraft fuel tank also has the same problem. As for the tires of aircraft, although they are not dangerous goods, they shall be inflated and pressurized after the renovation; have the leakage and balance tested according to the component maintenance manual. This is reason that, when transporting the tires by air, it is a must to release the tire pressure to 0 PSI to comply with “Dangerous Goods Regulation (DGR)”.
  4. Regulations Governing the Loading of Dangerous Goods

    When dangerous goods are placed and stored together, it is a must to fulfill the isolation requirements for any of the dangerous goods. Relevant rules are as follows.

    1. Radioactive substance: the maximum transport index for radioactive substance: the total transport index of level II yellow and level III yellow packages, overpack and container must be less than 50 and they shall be placed 6 meters away from other packages. According to Article 37 of “Regulations Governing the Safe Transport of Radioactive Substances”: the package and outer box of radioactive substance shall be bundled and piled up; these substances must not be transported using the same vehicle: explosive, flammable, oxidizing, ignitable, corrosive and chemically toxic substances; and explosive objects, explosive agent, explosive objects, and other explosive chemical materials
    2. Self-reactive substances and organic peroxides: during the transportation process, packages with self-reactive substance or organic peroxides inside shall be placed or stored away from the direct sunlight and heat source. It is also a must to keep good ventilation and not to mix these objects with the others.
  5. Conclusions

    Shippers have the responsibilities and obligations of determining the transport conditions of dangerous objects. That is, the owner shall assess the worthiness of transport and make recommendations thereon. Apart from determining whether the entire transportation process is safe or not, it is also a must to clarify matters to which shall be paid attention. The ownership judgement on the safety compliance of dangerous objects shall be based on the classification and tests of “Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air” (TI) of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), “Dangerous Goods Regulation (DGR)” of International Air Transport Association (IATA) and “Regulations Governing the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air” of Civil Aeronautics Administration.

Summarized by: Lu Cheng-Chieh of NASC


※ Chang Yu-Heng (2005). Book: Contemporary Transportation. Taipei: Huatai.

※ Chen Hui-Hua (2010). Safety Perception of Shippers and Freight Forwarders on Transporting Air Dangerous Goods Master Thesis, National Chiao Tung University.

※ Tung Chih-Wei (2012). The Study on Airline Internal Control Mechanism of Dangerous Cargo Transportation Master Thesis: Logistics Department, Vocational Class, MSc of Tourism and Transportation College, Kainan University.