Dangerous Goods 3: The Hermes Dangerous Goods Module

Dangerous Goods (DGR) is probably one of the most important functions when working within the air cargo industry and being accurate is probably the single most important attribute a ground handler can possess, given that failure to properly check goods before transportation or to pass goods with unsuitable packaging or incorrect labelling could have serious consequences for both the ground handler and the airline.

In 2006 the DGR module was developed inside the main Hermes Air Cargo management system. This automated, integrated module was developed to supply a highly accurate complete end to end DGR checking system that would assist DGR users in checking a Shippers Declaration according to IATA DGR aviation rules.

The DGR module has seven main objectives:

  1. Prevent unchecked DGR shipments from being loaded to a flight.
  2. Assist users in accurately checking shipper’s declarations.
  3. Display relevant State & Operator variations and Special Provisions relating to the shipment.
  4. Physical check of the packages using a mobile device.
  5. The control of rejected DGR shipments
  6. Produce fully completed DGR Checklists.
  7. Produce Dangerous goods data for the Notification to Captain (NOTOC).
  8. Produce ADR manifests (Carriage of DGR by Road).

The Hermes DGR system uses a set of questions which are a subset of the airlines DGR checklist. These questions drive the users in checking the required aspects of the DGR shipment and uses a set of rules to determine when and where a question will be used.

DGR Check Types

Currently the Hermes DGR system has specific checks relating to various types of DGR shipment:

  • Non-radioactive
  • Radioactive
  • Dry Ice
  • Expected
  • Expected radioactive
  • Lithium Batteries, Biological Substances

The Overpack and All in One package types are also supported with the “Q value” used in the All in One check automatically calculated and displayed.

Handheld Check

Is the packaging suitable for the packing instruction used and correctly marked? Are the labels clearly visible?

The Hermes handheld DGR package check uses a set of questions and label images to assist the DGR checker to identify if the shipment is packed and marked according to regulations. Because of the level of information shown during the handheld DGR check, it is necessary to take the shippers declaration to the warehouse for the package check.

Notification to Captain (NOTOC)

During the handheld DGR check, the checker defines the different DGR items into separate barcode identifiers. This means that when loading the barcode to a ULD the system knows the DGR items assigned to that barcode and therefore the NOTOC production is a simple case of loading the goods to a ULD. There is no need to define the DGR item to a ULD as this is an automatic process.

‘Other special Loads’ – is also covered in the DGR module. By carrier set-up the SHCs that should appear in the “Other special loads” section of the NOTOC will appear automatically, if the loaded shipment bears one of the SHCs then it appears in the NOTOC.

The NOTOC messages NOT and NTM are supported.

Discrepancy Handling

Discrepancies notified during the check process are identified and immediately the shipment is blocked for loading until the shipment has been re-checked and the discrepancies have been confirmed as resolved.

FDD Messages

A new feature of the DGR system is the acceptance and processing of the incoming FDD message. Shippers declarations sent electronically can be processed and the data populated into the DGR system for checking. Sending the FDD message out is also supported

Hermes User Recognised for its DGR work

Late last year, Hermes user, LUG Air cargo Handling, was recognised with a DGR Awareness Award in appreciation of the keen efforts of the LUG DGR team for compliance, handling and reporting.

This new initiative by Cargolux Airlines International, was developed to emphasise the importance of careful and proper DGR handling and to recognise the efforts of those who demonstrate a high level of awareness and diligence when handling DGR in their daily work.

Andreas Wetz, DG Manager at LUG told us: “The DGR check for documents and packages is performed in Hermes directly after freight acceptance, so all the relevant data for storage limits, NOTOCs or ADRs is already available within the system reducing the pressure on our staff. The Hermes DGR system also helps to easily avoid the loading of rejected or unchecked shipments.”

DGR Data Configurations

The Hermes DGR system is available to customers in either of two configurations:

Fully Maintained – where a full set of DGR data is supplied by our partners DGM-SDG (more information on the simple one button upload process will follow in the next newsletter).

Questions – Are an integral part of checking the shipment, a full set of questions are supplied in the integration stage and can be maintained internally by your own administrator if required

Self-Maintained – where an administrator is required to update the full set of the dangerous goods data required to run the DGR system and also define a full set of questions.

In both modes, all dangerous good data is dated. This means the DGR check is completed using data that is relevant according to the date of the shipper’s declaration.

Hermes & DGR

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

This full check solution includes:

  • 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 & 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 mail us at marketing@hermes-cargo.com

Dangerous Goods 2: DGR Checking

Our first DGR newsletter last month touched on the rules, restrictions and regulations involved with the shipping of dangerous goods. This issue looks more closely at the roles of the people working with DGR who are key in making sure shippers comply with air regulations and any potential risks are minimised.

The transportation of some items may endanger the safety of an aircraft or the people on board. These are classified as dangerous goods and it is the ground handler’s duty to establish that all relevant checks have been carried out, any irregularities have been reported and that all shipments are correctly packed, labelled and documented before they are transported.


The main responsibility for a Dangerous Goods (DGR) shipment lies with the shipper or packer. Whoever signs the “shipper’s declaration” bears the main responsibility that the shipment is declared and packed according to the regulations for transport by air.

DGR Checker

DGR checkers, employed by the airline or ground handler (GHA), perform an equally important role in ensuring the shipment is “declared and packed” according to the current IATA regulations.

However, the airline or GHA representative rarely looks inside the package to check the shipment has been packed according to the declaration

This is not practiced for obvious reasons (for example, possible contamination, dangers to personnel if there is some leakage) and the Airline accepts the signature of the shipper as proof that the contents inside the package are correctly declared.


The actual dangerous goods check performed in the warehouse of the airline/ GHA is only part of the process.

Some substances can react very dangerously if they come into contact with each other, so every airline or GHA must ensure the Dangerous Goods shipment is stored correctly. This responsibility falls to the warehouse operators who need to be aware of, and ensure they follow, DGR class segregation guidelines covering storage in the warehouse.

The warehouse operator may also be restricted in the amount of dangerous goods that can be stored. If there was a fire in the facility the stored dangerous goods could make matters much worse. Therefore, in the event of an emergency the warehouse operator must be able to provide the fire authorities with an inventory of dangerous goods. Or at the very least, be able to advise the fire crews where in the warehouse they are being stored.

Handlers & Loaders

All handlers and loaders of DGR shipments must receive training in the correct handling of the DGR shipments. Segregation must be strictly enforced to ensure that all the loaded DGR shipments are compatible with each other and that when they are loaded onto the aircraft that no incompatible shipments come into contact with each other.

Lashing of DGR shipments is also a big part of the loaders responsibility, if the shipment is not held in place by other cargo then the loader will need to tie the shipment to the loading equipment to ensure there is no possible way the package can move inflight.

DGR shipments containing substances with a serious hazard must be placed on the outside edge of the pallet to ensure visibility, as loading crews may need to identify the location of the hazard before loading to the aircraft.


Aircraft load crews are also involved in the DGR process chain and can quickly identify DGR loaded by a special pallet tag. All DGR shipments are declared by the airline or GHA onto a Notification to Captain (NOTOC). This document (or message) is used by the flight crew to identify what DGR shipments are included in the load. In the event of a flight emergency the crew will need to advise air traffic control of any hazards on board the aircraft.

Interesting Fact

The shipping of Dangerous Goods by air is big business and almost all commercial flights will carry dangerous goods of some kind in the lower holds. Anything from explosives to radioactive materials can all be loaded in the holds below passengers.

Enjoy your next flight!

Airlines take the safety of its aircraft, passengers and crew very seriously.

Any breach in the regulations by a GHA can bring significant penalties. Small clerical errors (even those that pose no danger) are still treated very seriously. In some cases an airline can impose a “double check” culture where every shipment must be checked twice by the GHA staff.

Hermes & DGR

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

This full check solution includes:

  • 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 & NOT

This check solution is supported by our DGR data suppliers DGM.

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 mail us at marketing@hermes-cargo.com

Dangerous Goods 1: Rules, Regulations & Responsibilities

Our latest newsletter series will be exploring the world of Dangerous Goods (DGR) and looking at some of the problems ground handlers may face, including NOTOCs, DGR systems and the DGR data update process.

This first newsletter is meant as an introduction to DGR and provides an insight into this complex and important area of air cargo handling.

So what qualifies as Dangerous Goods (DGR)?

A DGR is a substance or article that is capable of causing health risks, damage to people, property or the environment and covers a multitude of goods from corrosives to explosives, toxic or infectious substances to flammable liquids and solids, gases or radioactive material.

Clearly explosives or toxins are obvious examples, but dangerous goods aren’t always so apparent. Take “Cola” for example, an everyday substance that has the ability to corrode an object if it is left immersed for a long period. Now, put a large quantity of Cola (Corrosive, Class 8) in its concentrated form in an aircraft, that is made mostly of aluminium and should the concentrate leak during a flight, the potential consequences could be very serious.

Ensuring that these dangerous goods do not go undeclared on board an aircraft is one of many key objectives of IATA’s dangerous goods program.

What are the DGR Regulations?

Information is key to any safety program, no less for dangerous goods in air transport. Through its Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) and a comprehensive and effective training program, IATA ensures that shippers, forwarders and carriers have the tools and resources to ship dangerous goods safely.

These regulations are published yearly by IATA. The basis of the regulations is comprised from many sources SCoETDG, ICAO, IAEA and IATA. By working closely with governments and other national authorities to develop the regulations, IATA ensures that the rules governing dangerous goods transport are both effective and efficient with the main goal to make it just as easy to ship dangerous goods by air as any other product so it removes any incentive to by-pass the regulations.

Addendums to the current regulations are produced throughout the year with new regulations becoming effective on the 1st day of the New Year. The regulations are available printed or via a CD or flash drive within a software package.

What is the purpose of the DGR Regulations?

The regulations detail an international standard for the shipping of dangerous cargo by air. They also define substances that cannot be transported by air due to the high danger that they pose in the event of an accident. Sometimes a countries government or an aircraft owner might impose stricter rules than are defined by the standard IATA regulations and these are known as State & Operator variations.

By defining these document standards, handling and training and by actively promoting the adoption and use of those standards by the air cargo industry, IATA have achieved a very high degree of safety in dangerous goods transport.

Operators Responsibilities

An operator (airline) or its Ground Handling Agent (GHA) must ensure that they comply with the regulations for dangerous goods and follow the correct procedures for acceptance, storage, checking, loading and the reporting of the loaded dangerous goods items to the “Pilot in Command”.

Training must also be completed for each employee involved in the handling of dangerous goods.

Each employee must undergo approved IATA training course and pass an examination to verify the understanding of the regulations.

Each employee must perform recurrent training every 2 years to ensure they are aware of the current regulations.

Records of training must be kept by the Operator GHA and will be required in the event of a dangerous good incident.

Playing with Fire: What happens when DGR transport goes wrong?

In August 1980, a Lockheed L1011 took off from Riyadh. Seven minutes later an aural warning indicated a smoke in the aft cargo compartment. Despite the successful landing all 301 persons on board perished due toxic fumes inhalation and uncontrolled fire.

In May 1996, fire, originating from incorrectly carried dangerous cargo, broke out on board a DC9. The fire damaged the aircraft flying controls before the crew were able to land the aircraft and it crashed in the Florida Everglades.

In July 2011, a Boeing 747- 400F reported main deck fire 50 minutes after take off. Eighteen minutes later the aircraft crashed into the sea. The on-going investigation is focusing on dangerous goods being carried which included lithium ion batteries.

Shippers Responsibilities

A shipper must comply with the current regulations and must ensure that all documentary requirements are followed and that the packaging meets the requirements for shipment by air.

The shipper is also responsible for ensuring that maximum net quantities of the dangerous substances are not exceeded.

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 mail us at: marketing@hermes-cargo.com

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