What are dangerous goods in aviation?

Dangerous goods pose a serious threat to aircraft and their occupants. As a result, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has developed comprehensive regulations to manage dangerous goods in air transport, including a list of classes of dangerous goods that are prohibited from being transported by air.

What are dangerous goods in aviation?

Dangerous goods are those substances and articles that pose a risk to people, property or the environment and must be transported in a particular manner. If you’re an airline passenger, you’ll have seen these notices on the back of your seat back:

  • Passengers are advised that this aircraft carries dangerous goods for shipment following International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations.
  • Dangerous Goods Regulations apply to all persons. Any person causing damage or loss of life by improperly storing or handling dangerous goods will be held responsible by law regardless of whether or not they were aware that they were dangerous goods.

How are dangerous goods classified?

How are dangerous goods classified?

Dangerous goods are classified by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. The IMDG Code is a global standard that specifies how to classify and label dangerous substances, whether household products or industrial chemicals. It also provides information on how to safely pack, handle, transport and dispose of these substances. The code is updated regularly and published by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization). In addition, it’s available in many languages online at imdgcode.org/downloads/.

Can people take dangerous goods with them on flights?

You cannot take dangerous goods on board aircraft. The only exception to this rule is if you have written permission from the airline or airport where the flight will take place.

If you want to take some of the following items with you on your flight, then you must get written permission:

  • Firearms and ammunition (excluding sporting use)
  • Flammable liquids such as paints, thinners and petrol/gasoline
  • Corrosive liquids such as acids and batteries that contain acidic liquid inside them

What must shippers do when sending dangerous goods by air?

You, as a shipper, must provide accurate information to the airlines. This includes the proper classification and packaging of dangerous goods shipments (for example, by using IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations or ICAO’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air).

This is why you should always check whether your package contains hazardous materials when sending packages via air transport. If you fail to do so, it may result in serious consequences such as fines and criminal charges.

What information and training do operators/shippers need to have?

  • The operator/shipper must know how to classify the dangerous goods and package, label and ship it.
  • The operator/shipper must also be knowledgeable in handling dangerous goods in an emergency, such as a fire or spill on airport property. In addition, operators should have a plan for dealing with a spill of any kind at their facility (e.g., evacuation plans for employees).
  • Finally, operators need to be familiar with regulations concerning the transportation of dangerous goods by air to maintain compliance during all aspects of the shipment’s lifecycle—from the point of origin through delivery at the destination.

What about medical devices and medicines?

Medical devices and medicines are not considered dangerous goods. However, they are subject to the same regulations as dangerous goods when travelling by air.

It would be best if you understood that medical devices and medicines are not subject to the same restrictions as dangerous goods. For example, they do not require an additional label or placard around the packaging unless they meet certain criteria (such as being flammable). In addition, they are exempt from many packaging requirements that apply to other types of dangerous goods (e.g., UN numbers).

This is an introduction to dangerous goods in air transport.

UN numbers classify dangerous goods. These numbers have been developed by the United Nations and are used to classify dangerous goods.

Dangerous goods are divided into categories, packing groups and classes. A dangerous goods category is usually assigned a code of three capital letters (for example, nitromethane is UN1270). A packing group is then assigned to this code, which gives you four numbers (for example, nitromethane has a packing group of 1). In contrast, classifications give you additional information about the nature of your product (for example, nitromethane is class 3).

The divisions within each packing group also provide further detail about how dangerous your product might be in certain situations; for example, some solids may be harmful if they come into contact with water and so you can use 4.1 for these products rather than 4 for non-explosive substances or articles that would not pose any threat under normal conditions.


As you can see, dangerous goods are a big part of aviation. They affect everyone who travels by air because they are important in keeping the skies safe and secure. The more you know about this topic, the better prepared you will be to make sound decisions regarding your safety and that of others around you during an emergency.