Special Load-Notification to Captain

Notification to Captain (NOTOC) is a written document to inform the pilot-in-command that dangerous goods are being carried as cargo on board the aircraft. Furthermore, it informs the pilot-in-command about any special load such as live animals, human remains, etc.

This question from one of my readers asking? “In some NOTOC formats the emergency response code is applied and in others is not. Is The current IATA DGR Book Ed.64 recommended, or just the un number is enough?”. This question motivates me to write about Notification to Captain (NOTOC) to let you understand the role of this document and what kind of information is included in it, and the importance of this document during incidents involving dangerous goods during flight.

Aircraft Operator Responsibility

According to ICAO Annex 18 and ICAO Technical Instructions Doc 9284, the operator of an aircraft in which dangerous goods are to be carried must provide the pilot-in-command with accurate and legible written or printed information concerning dangerous goods that are to be carried as cargo. Also, it provides personnel with responsibility for operation control of the aircraft with the same information required to be provided to the pilot-in-command.  

In providing the written or printed information, the PIC must indicate on a copy of the written information, or otherwise, that the information has been received. A legible copy of the written information provided to the PIC must be kept on the ground, and another must be immediately available to the PIC during the flight.

NOTOC Minimum Information

NOTOC must include the following:

a)          The date of the flight.

b)          The air waybill number (when issued)

c)          The proper shipping name and UN / ID number

d)          The class or division and  subsidiary risk(s) [and compatibility group if [Class 1]

e)          The packing group as shown in the shipper declaration.

f)           For non-radioactive materials (number of packages, net quantity or gross mass per package, and the unit of measurement).

g)           For radioactive material, the number of the packages, overpacks, or freight containers, their category, their transport index (if applicable), and their exact loading location.

h)          The airport where the goods will be unloaded (destination of the shipment)

i)           The exact loading position of dangerous goods

j)           Whether the package must be carried on cargo aircraft only (CAO or not)

k)          Loading Personnel and Captain’s Signature

l)           Where applicable, an indication that the dangerous goods are being carried under a state exemption.

m)        Emergency Response Drill code

n)          Remark

Now, I will answer the question?

According to IATA DGR Book Ed.64 (Section 4,, it explains the column N in table 4.2 list of dangerous goods [ ERG Code- Emergency Response Drill Code as found in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Document “the Emergency Response Guidance for Aircraft Incidents Involving Dangerous Goods” ( ICAO Doc.9481-An/928). IATA says that the ERG Code is provided for the benefit of operators so that the erg code may be added to the Special Load-Notification to Captain (NOTOC). So, IATA recommends adding ERG Code to the Special Load-Notification to Captain (NOTOC).

What is the ERG Code- Emergency Response Drill Code?

 The code consists of a combination of letters and numbers which represents suggested response to incidents involving the specific dangerous good entry to which the drill code is assigned.

Why NOTOC is important?

There are two major significances of NOTOC:

1)          Execute an emergency response drill

First, the crew needs the information directly/ indirectly to obtain the Emergency Response Guide (ERG) Code for certain emergency response drills.

For example, if there is a fire in the cargo hold which contain 3 packages of UN 1088 Acetal, 15 L. The captain will look for the emergency response code for these dangerous goods substances on the NOTOC (3H). Then he will refer to the Emergency Response Guidance for Aircraft Incidents Involving Dangerous Goods” (ICAO Doc.9481-An/928) section 4. Table 4.1


INHERENT RISK | Flammable liquid or solid

RISK TO AIRCRAFT | Fire and/or explosion

RISK TO OCCUPANTS | Smoke, fumes, and heat, as indicated by the drill letter(s)

SPILL OR LEAK PROCEDURE | Use 100% oxygen; establish and maintain maximum ventilation; no smoking; minimum electrics

FIREFIGHTING PROCEDURE | All agents according to availability; no water on the “W” drill letter

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS | Possible abrupt loss of pressurization




2)          Inform ATC

Secondly, during an in-flight emergency, the pilot-in-command (PIC) must, as soon as the situation permits, inform the air traffic services unit and/or air traffic controllers of any dangerous goods being carried as cargo on board the aircraft.

Rescue And Firefighting (RFF) Services Responsibility

Air Traffic Services unit will inform the senior member of the RFF personnel who will use the NOTOC information to prepare the emergency response according to the dangerous goods emergency response guide 127 (Orange book).


Special Load-Notification to Captain (NOTOC) serves as the key for the flight crew to unlock the information given on the Notification to Pilot-in-Command for dangerous goods shipments; it prescribes the correct steps to be taken for each type of dangerous goods shipment carried aboard aircraft. By us this document, the flight crew can put the information provided by the shipper about the dangerous goods to full use and take the correct actions for the emergency.

Maged Saeed AL-Hadabi

Air Cargo / IATA Dangerous Goods | CGO, DGR, SMS Chief Instructor | Internal Auditor | DG Inspector linkedin

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