IATA and FAA Release Guidance to Carry Cargo on Passenger Aircraft During COVID-19 Emergency

Posted on 4/20/2020 by Roger Marks

On April 17 the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released guidance pertaining to the use of passenger aircraft to safely transport cargo and/or mail during the COVID-19 global health crisis.

Given the disruption to normal operators’ business during this time, some carriers are evaluating options to re-configure passenger aircraft to carry cargo—either by loading goods on passenger seats or by removing seats to accommodate cargo.

Options to Transport Goods Aboard Passenger Aircraft

FAA released Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 20008 on April 15 to provide information and recommendations to operators who hold certificates to conduct operations under 14 CFR Part 121. 

With respect to hazardous materials/dangerous goods, FAA states that operators should: 
  • Follow the current approved hazardous materials program authorized via OpSpec A055. 
  • Contact the appropriate FAA aviation safety inspector to update the hazardous materials program when they wish to use any new processes relating to the transport of hazardous materials. Updates may also include new information or descriptions of hazmat training programs. 
  • Prevent hazardous materials packages from being inadvertently loaded into the passenger cabin. 
The new IATA guidance outlines options for carrying humanitarian supplies, medicines, and general cargo aboard a re-purposed passenger aircraft. It also addresses air transport of dangerous goods.

In short, dangerous goods are not permitted in the following areas:
  • Overhead bins/coat cupboards,
  • Under seats,
  • On the seats, or
  • On the cabin floor with seats removed
Dangerous goods (and Cargo Aircraft Only dangerous goods) can be carried in cargo compartments only, and only when the operator holds a CAA approval to carry dangerous goods as cargo. Cargo Aircraft Only dangerous goods must be loaded into a Class C cargo compartment and may not be transported when passengers are on the aircraft.

IATA’s Safety Risk Assessment Recommendations

In order to undertake this effort, IATA says, “a comprehensive safety risk assessment shall be performed involving all the relevant operations departments (i.e., ground, cargo, cabin, flight, engineering).”

Section 3 of the guidance document outlines general recommendations for performing a risk assessment, as well as examples of hazards that operators should prepare for. This section includes a table that details possible events, hazards, consequences, and controls that should be considered when performing the risk assessment, along with a Risk Rating for the possible safety issues that may arise.

For more details, see IATA's full guidance document here. 

Live Webinar: IATA Hazmat Air Shipper Certification

Expand on your 49 CFR expertise and learn the latest unique requirements for dangerous goods by air. 
Upcoming IATA DG webinars: May 5, June 3, July 14. Save your seat here.

Need training on US DOT’s 49 CFR Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR)?
Learn online or join us for our next live, instructor-led 49 CFR webinar on May 7.

Live webinars at blend the convenience of online training with the instructor-led experience and interaction of a public workshop. Instructors take advantage of cutting-edge software tools, polls, Q&A, and exercises to deliver the quality live training you expect from Lion Technology. 

See all 2020 webinars at

To train at your own pace, try these self-paced online courses for hazmat shippers:

Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (DOT)
Recurrent Hazmat Ground Shipper Certification (DOT)
Hazmat Air Shipper Certification (IATA) 
Hazmat Vessel Shipper Certification (IMDG) 

Tags: cargo aircraft, dangerous goods, hazmat shipping, IATA DGR

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

I like the consistency of Lion workshops. The materials are well put together and instructors are top notch!

Kevin Pylka

Permitting, Compliance & Environmental Manager

We have a very busy work schedule and using Lion enables us to take the course at our own time. It makes it easy for me to schedule my employees' training.

Timothy Mertes

Hazmat Shipping Professional

Excellent job. Made what is very dry material interesting. Thoroughly explained all topics in easy-to-understand terms.

David Hertvik

Vice President

The workshop covered a lot of information without being too overwhelming. Lion is much better, more comprehensive than other training providers.

George Alva

Manufacturing Manager

The instructor was probably the best I ever had! He made the class enjoyable, was humorous at times, and very knowledgeable.

Mary Sue Michon

Environmental Administrator

I really enjoyed this training. Even after years on both sides of the comprehension coin, I find myself still learning! The quality of the delivery exceeded much of the training I have received in the past.

Neil Ozonur

Safety Officer

Lion courses are the standard to which all other workshops should strive for!

Brody Saleen

Registered Environmental Health Specialist

Lion is at the top of the industry in compliance training. Course content and structure are updated frequently to make annual re-training enjoyable. I like that Lion has experts that I can contact for 1 year after the training.

Caroline Froning

Plant Chemist

This training broke down the regulations in an easy-to-understand manner and made them less overwhelming. I now feel I have the knowledge to make more informed decisions.

Amanda Oswald

Shipping Professional

One of the best trainings I have ever received!

Brandon Morfin

EH&S Manager

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

A guide to developing standard operating procedures, or SOPs, that help you select, manage, and audit your hazmat agents and contractors.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.