Dangerous Goods 7: Transporting Radioactive Material

There are many different types of DGR – from gases, explosives, toxic, flammable or infectious substances to cars and even animals.

Strict regulations dictate how all of these goods must be packaged, labelled and carried so if you’re involved in the processing, packing or transporting of dangerous goods, you will first need to classify them correctly so that all organisations in the supply chain, including the emergency authorities, know and understand exactly what the hazard is.

You may be surprised to hear its common practice to load radioactive materials into the hold of passenger planes. Here in particular, it is absolutely critical that guidelines are followed correctly.

Loading of Radioactive Shipments

Radioactive shipments are categorised in 3 colour coded labels – each label displays the amount of radiation being given off by each package. This is measured by the Transport Index (T.I.). categories 1 (RRW) – white label (lowest TI omitted from a package) ascending to category 111 (RRY) – yellow label (greatest amount of TI given from a package).

Whenever yellow label packages are allocated to any flight for loading, especially passenger carrying aircraft many precautions have to be considered, the most important being the distance from package to passenger. Loading charts are used for this purpose (Check airline quality manuals for requirements). Incorrectly loaded RRY shipments can expose passengers to unreasonable amounts of radiation depending on the length of the flight if loaded too near to the main deck (passenger cabin). The obvious way to load RRY shipments is then on the base / floor of the ULD/aircraft. Even then the amount of TIs loaded in each aircraft hold must be correctly calculated as the back of the aircraft tapers up, meaning the aircraft floor gets nearer to passengers. Also the standard DGR loading regulations have to be considered if other DG classes are also loaded on the flight and it is also possible that specific Operator loading regulations are more restrictive than the actual D.G. Regulations.

In the worst possible scenarios, every passenger on a flight to the USA (8hours) for example, maybe required to undergo a medical if RRY was incorrectly loaded at considerable cost to the carrier. It can also create bad publicity for all concerned with a potential loss of future business.

With suitable DG training and further training for loading staff in basic principles of ULD/Flight build up these incidents are minimal in everyday aviation. The loading chart above is an example from a specific passenger aircraft. Always know yours!

British AAIB Releases Early Findings

The British AAIB (Air Accidents Investigation Branch) has released their preliminary findings on the onboard fire incident on an Ethiopian Airlines B-787 at LHR last year.

The AAIB Bulletin S4/2014 outlines in detail, a Lithium- Metal battery installed in a so-called ELT, an Emergency Location Transmitter started the Ethiopian fire due to “improper wiring, which likely took place when the ELT was installed”.

The Hermes DGR Module

The integrated Hermes DGR system can assist your users in the correct checking of Dangerous Goods shipper’s declarations including:

  • Fully updated and date relevant DGR data used in the check process, ensuring your staff are using the most recent DGR data
  • Full handheld package checks
  • Automated checklists production
  • One button NOTOC production
  • ADR compliant
  • Message support for FDD (in/out), NTM and NOT

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website: www.iata.org


If you have any questions on the topics discussed here email us at: marketing@hermes-cargo.com

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