Dangerous Goods 10: Additional Special Loads – Part 1

Cargo shipments are transported throughout the world daily carrying the classification ‘Special load’.

Some Airlines recognize a shipment as a Special Load before some of their competitors but there is a general table to work from, which is known throughout the Airfreight Industry.

Any shipment carrying the term ‘Special Load’ is classified by the Consignee and the Handling Airline as a shipment, which requires special precautions to protect,

A – The Aircraft.
B – Handling Personnel.
C – Other consignments loaded with the shipment.
D – The shipment itself.
Or which, due to their urgency, require priority handling.

For all ‘Special loads’ a booking is MANDATORY.

Where a ‘Special Load’ is present on a flight build-up plan, senior personnel dealing with that flight will be notified by the Airline Representative, stating the requirements for that shipment to fly and for making it safe to any staff involved in the loading and of course the aircraft whilst in flight.

All these categories are simplified via means of three letter codes. Here are some of the more common ones.

Perishables – This is a generalized term but includes three – letter codes than come under the PER name;

These will be classified in the IATA Perishable Cargo Handling Manual so get to know where yours is if required.

PES: Seafood products

PEF: Fresh flowers and plants

PEP: Fruit and vegetables

PEM: Fresh meat and poultry and their products (sausages)

EAT: Food for human or animal consumption (which is not any of the above)

COL: Use this code for movement of ‘temperature’ controlled shipments. The same incompatibility restrictions apply to COL as EAT

PEA: Other products derived from animals (hunting trophies, skin)

PER: Generally perishable goods (medicines, blood plasma)

PPH: Pharmaceuticals to be transported at a temp = 10-30.c using a Cool Container

PPL: Pharmaceuticals to be transported at a temp = 2-8.c using a Cool Container

Marking – ‘ Perishable’ label, ‘Keep Temperature’ label maybe ‘Fragile’ and ‘This way up’ label visible.

When loading it is important to be aware of other cargo in the same compartment.

When stacking packages containing perishables, make sure that the lower layers of the stack are not damaged by the weight of the above pieces. It is also best to handle this cargo like WET cargo.

PEF ULD’s must not be completely wrapped in plastic. However a top layer could be used for protection as where physically possible, maximum air circulation is an advantage.

Some of the other more common markings required on other packages for correct and safe transportation are:

HEA: One single piece weighing 150KG or more

Its’ important to always make sure you know theREGULATIONS for each airline handled within your shed. HEA’s can rangeup to 250kg and will generally require additional lashing. HEA’s with a single weight of 10,000kgs are not allowed unless special permission is granted as this could affect the aircraft structure once loaded.

Marking – ‘Attention Secure’ label, ‘This Side Up’ label and possibly ‘Fragile’.

Loading – HEA’s should be preferably on pallets. If it is inside a container inner lashing may be required and where possible not loaded in LD1/ LD3 containers due to any possible damage. HEA’s must be loaded in the centre of the ULD. If not spreading must take place.

Lashing is mandatory when HEA is loaded in a bulk load compartment(500kg max). The cargo shed is also responsible for supplying the required lashing material.

The operations dept at the aircraft side are responsible for the correct loading and lashing.

VAL: Valuable items should always be handled as VAL. These include Gold, Platinum, Precious stones, Airline passenger tickets, narcotics, Blank travelers cheques. Special allowance for certain firearms.

Marking – No labels to be affixed to cartons, packages or similar types of packaging. Use tags or handwritten markings.

When loading VAL, small pieces should be stowed into relevant Value Box (LH – yellow) or container that is to be Sealed – Usually in a lockable container. (LD3)

Specials – These are only transported by aircraft, never by road. If missing or stolen the supervisor or appropriate staff must be notified. For DGR goods with a classification of VAL, the rules apply the same as any DG shipment and then VAL restrictions apply from then on.

Always check with individual airline concerned as additional requirements may apply.

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website:


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 get in touch at: marketing@hermes-cargo.com


The information in these newsletters is for information purposes only and is representative of the experience of Hermes Logistics Technologies Ltd. We do not guarantee its completeness, timeliness or accuracy.

You may also like

Leave a comment