Updated: May 18
If you are shipping Dangerous Goods by Air, the International Air Transport Association Dangerous Goods Regulations (IATA DGR) will be your handbook.
In this post, I want to introduce the IATA DGR and also explain the link to the International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions for the Safe Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO TIs).
If you just want to see the training that we offer for Dangerous Goods by Air (IATA), you can find that here.
So if you haven't come across the Dangerous Goods Regulations for Air Freight, let's cover some of the basics.
Where did the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations come from?
Back in 1939, some of the main airlines that existed at the time, formed a trade association called the International Air Transport Association (IATA). As well as performing the normal functions of a trade association, they knew that the world of aviation would become increasingly bureaucratic and regulated, and IATA wanted to keep abreast of the ever-changing landscape. IATA began by working to standardise aviation internationally. They would work their way across the aviation world with their airline partners, documenting and standardising the industry as they went.
In 1959, IATA had got round to to Dangerous Goods and released the first Dangerous Goods manual for air freight. They called this The Regulations on the Carriage of
Restricted Articles. It was a short document, compared to the modern-day version, but IATA knew how quickly things changed and decided to keep this up-to-date and released a new version each year, taking into account any new information on the safe transport of Dangerous Goods by Air.
IATA continued to release these Dangerous Goods Regulations annually and the Aviation industry became used to using them, as standard practice.
Meanwhile, in 1944 at the Chicago Convention, the United Nations had established the UN Specialized Agency for Aviation, called the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO were international law-makers and policy writers. Their job was to write the regulations that govern aviation internationally. In some ways, a
lot of the groundwork had been done by IATA - airlines were used to working from central regulatory frameworks, used to standardization, and when in 1977 ICAO released their Technical Instructions for the Safe Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO TI's), they looked eerily familiar to users of IATA's DGR.
The ICAO TI's were a step forward for the Dangerous Goods by Air industry. They took what were basically airline policy (IATA DGR) and actually backed up the policies into law. IATA decided that as their DGR was widely used across the aviation industry, they would continue producing their DGR, and simply make sure that the rules set out in IATA, were always in agreement with the ICAO TIs (which for a number of reasons are produced every two years). Shippers therefore, if they followed the IATA DGR, would be following the law (as IATA DGR agreed with ICAO TIs), and be able to continue using the book that they had become accustomed to.
The IATA DGR takes things further too. The law, as set out in the ICAO TIs is one aspect of the Dangerous Goods by Air rules, but airlines themselves also set their own variations and further restrictions on the ICAO TIs. The IATA DGR, as it is written by the airlines, and produced annually, can include all of these rules as well, to avoid any confusion between airline rules and the ICAO TIs.
As a result, after all of this, the IATA DGR is used across the industry and forms the
'field handbook' whereas the ICAO TIs are used primarily by the enforcement agencies and Dangerous Goods specialist for reference.
The most recent ICAO TIs came into force on 1st January 2019 and are valid through until 31st December 2020 (2 Years).
The most recent IATA DGR is the 61st Edition, which came into force on 1st January 2020 and is valid until 31st December 2020 (1 Year).
What does the IATA DGR contain?
The IATA DGR is split into 10 Sections, followed by some Appendices:
Section 1 - Applicability (when the DGR applies, to who and exceptions)
Section 2 - Limitations (Dangerous Goods on-board aircraft, country & airline rules)
Section 3 - Classification (assigning Dangerous Goods to a Class)
Section 4 - Identifications (assigning Dangerous Goods a UN Number)
Section 5 - Packing (how Dangerous Goods must be packed)
Section 6 - Packaging Specification & Performance Tests (Tests for Packaging)
Section 7 - Marking and Labelling (how Dangerous Goods are marked and labelled)
Section 8 - Documentation (what documentation is required for Dangerous Goods)
Section 9 - Handling (rules for cargo handlers and airlines)
Section 10 - Radioactive Materials (rules for shipping Radioactive Materials)
Appendices - Definitions, Units of Measure and other info
How to use IATA DGR
If you need to use the IATA DGR, you will need to undergo formal training (our courses are here) as in the UK, it is a legal requirement to be trained and qualified to pack or ship Dangerous Goods.
So that's the basics. IATA and ICAO both list the law for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. The ICAO TIs are the actual legal text and are released every two years. IATA is the 'Field Handbook' and updated every year, these are used by most shippers across the industry on a daily-basis.
That post, I hope, has given you an introduction to the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations. If you need training, our courses are here. If you have any questions, you can always comment below, contact us or use the live-chat in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Thanks for reading!
*Notice: This blog aims to give you an introduction to Dangerous Goods, it is not intended as a reference material so always conduct your own research and check anything with your Dangerous Goods Specialist or DGSA before taking any action based on the subjects discussed here.*