International Hazmat Shipping | Operator Responsibilities

International Hazmat Shipping | Operator Responsibilities

Operator Responsibilities related to DG

An operator (airline) has several responsibilities related to the international hazmat shipping by air - or its Ground Handling Agent (GHA)- such as acceptance, storage, checking, loading, and the reporting of the loaded dangerous goods packages to the “Pilot in Command”. 

At all times, the aircraft operators must comply with the regulations for dangerous goods and follow the correct procedures as mentioned in the current IATA dangerous goods regulations book.

In this article, I am going to explain to you the aircraft operator (airline operator) dangerous goods legal responsibilities.


Operator Responsibilities related  to the carriage of Dangerous Goods

To ensure the safe transport of dangerous goods by air, air operators must comply with the following responsibilities contained in the current IATA DGR : 

     1.    Acceptance of Dangerous Goods

    Aircraft operator’s Cargo acceptance staff must be adequately trained- IATA DGR Cat.6- to identify and detect dangerous goods. 

    For example, the Cargo acceptance staff shall not accept dangerous goods for transport by air:

a) unless the dangerous goods are accompanied by a completed dangerous goods transport document, except where the current IATA DGR indicate that such a document is not required; and 

b) Until the package, overpack, or freight container containing the dangerous goods has been accepted per the acceptance procedures contained in the current IATA DGR.


An acceptance checklist is used as an aid to compliance with the acceptance of dangerous goods (current IATA DGR).


      2.    Storage of Dangerous Goods   

An air operator should provide safe and secured dangerous goods storage to keep dangerous goods packages safe before to loading and after unloading from the aircraft.


      3.    Loading of Dangerous Goods

Aircraft operator’s Cargo loading or Aircraft operator’s contracted ground handling agent’s staff shall apply the loading procedure of Dangerous Goods include segregation, stowage, and securing of Dangerous Goods onboard the aircraft.




-       Packages of dangerous goods bearing the “Cargo aircraft only” label shall be loaded in Cargo aircraft only, not to be loaded in passenger aircraft.


-       Liquid dangerous goods must be stowed upright. Packages bearing orientation arrows must be stowed following the arrows. For single packaging, closures must be upright.


I will give you a further explanation regarding Segregation and securing responsibility of the aircraft operator.


A- Segregation, Stowage

Dangerous Goods Packages containing dangerous goods which might react dangerously one with another shall not bestowed on an aircraft next to each other or in a position that would allow interaction between them in the event of leakage.



1- Dangerous Goods Class 3 packages must be segregated from Dangerous Goods Class 5, Division 1 Oxidizer Substances.


2- Dangerous Goods Packages of radioactive materials shall bestowed on an aircraft so that they are separated from Persons, passengers, live animals, and undeveloped film, per the provisions in the current IATA DGR.


B- Securing of Dangerous Goods on Board the Aircraft.

This includes protecting the dangerous goods from being damaged and securing such goods in the aircraft in such a manner that will prevent any movement in flight that would change the orientation of the packages.


           4.    Inspecting Dangerous Goods packages

Dangerous goods packages and overpacks and freight containers containing radioactive materials shall be inspected for evidence of leakage or damage before loading on an aircraft or into a unit load device.


Leaking or damaged packages, overpacks, or freight containers shall not be loaded on an aircraft.



        5.    Provision of Information


Providing passengers and crew with Dangerous Goods information (including emergency response information to train the crew to handle Dangerous Goods incidents and accidents)


In more details, the aircraft operator shall:


A- Provide Information to pilot-in-command

The aircraft operator in which dangerous goods are to be carried shall provide the pilot-in-command as early as practicable before departure of the aircraft with written information (NOTOC).


If an in-flight emergency occurs the pilot-in-command will inform the appropriate air traffic services unit, for the information of aerodrome authorities, of any dangerous goods on board by referring to written information (NOTOC). 

The information includes the proper shipping names, class, subsidiary risks for which labels are required, the compatibility group for DG Class 1, and the quantity and location aboard the aircraft of the dangerous goods.



B- Information and instructions to flight crew members

The aircraft operator shall provide such information in the Operations Manual as will enable the flight crew to carry out their responsibilities about the transport of dangerous goods. 

Furthermore, aircraft operators shall provide instructions as to the action to be taken in the event of emergencies arising involving dangerous goods.


C- Information to passengers

Aircraft Operator shall ensure that information is promulgated in such a manner that passengers are warned as to the types of goods which they are forbidden from transporting aboard an aircraft as checked baggage or carry-on articles.


Note: Passengers can carry dangerous goods items permitted by the provisions of the current IATA DGR table 2.3A.


D- Information to other persons

The Aircraft Operators shall provide such information to their personnel involved in handling and loading of dangerous goods to enable them to carry out their responsibilities about the transport of dangerous goods and shall provide instructions as to the action to be taken in the event of emergencies arising involving dangerous goods.


      6.    Reporting Dangerous Goods incidents and accidents


In the event of an aircraft accident or incident, the aircraft operator must inform the State in which the aircraft incidents and accidents occurred and to the CAA of aircraft of the registry.  



      7.    Retention of Dangerous Goods documentation records

The aircraft operator must ensure that at least one copy of the documents appropriate to the transport by air of a consignment of dangerous goods is retained for a minimum period of three months after the flight on which the dangerous goods were transported.


As a minimum, the documents which must be retained are the dangerous goods transport documents, the shipper declaration of dangerous goods, the acceptance checklist (when this is in a form that requires physical completion), and the written information to the pilot-in-command.


Note.— Where the documents are kept electronically or in a computer system, they should be capable of being reproduced in a printed manner.


       8.    Training of employees

The aircraft operator must provide initial and recurrent dangerous goods training for its personnel. The training must cover the requirements commensurate with their responsibilities. Such training shall include:

a) general familiarization training.

b) Function specific training; and

c) Safety training




Anyone involved in the process of transportation of dangerous goods by air, whether the originator of the goods, the company that packs them or delivers them to the airport, the handling agent, and the aircraft operator (airline operator), has a legal responsibility to ensure that the applicable requirements have been met.

An aircraft operator has several responsibilities related to the carriage of dangerous goods by air such as acceptance, storage, loading, inspecting dangerous goods packages, provision of information, reporting dangerous goods incidents and accidents, retention of dangerous goods documentation records, and training of employees.

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

I’m Instructor / Maged Saeed Al-Hadabi. ​ Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations / Safety Management System Senior Instructor, Auditor [ Yemen Airways] . Approved IATA DGR/ SMS Instructor by Yemen Civil Aviation Authority. We hope you find Aviation Professional website not only informative, but interesting and helpful as well. Leave your comment , thank you.

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