The very specific issues pertaining to the carriage of dangerous goods by air mean that ICAO's Dangerous Goods Panel must interpret the UN provisions
The International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) held its 27th session in Montréal, Canada from 16 to 20 September 2019, with the aim of making progress on the development of the amendments to the Technical Instructions for the Transport of Dangerous Good (Tis) that will be in effect in 2021 and 2022, subject to adoption by the ICAO Council in November 2020.
The meeting was attended by representatives of 21 contracting states and six non-government organisations. It was chaired by Micheline Paquette (Canada) with Teun Muller (Netherlands) elected as vice-chair. Dr Katherine Rooney, chief of ICAO’s Cargo Safety Section, acted as usual as secretary.
Those involved in the transport of dangerous goods by air most often use the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), but need to be aware that the legal provisions are set by ICAO; its DGP also attempts to maintain harmonisation, insofar as is possible, with the UN Model Regulations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, which also feed into the other modal, national and regional rulebooks. Any amendments adopted by ICAO will, therefore, be reflected in the 2021 edition of IATA’s DGR.
DGP was faced by a lengthy agenda, agreed by the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC); however, its work was made easier by the fact that working groups had met the week before to carry out a lot of the donkey work.
The Panel examined the decisions adopted by the UN Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG) and the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) at its ninth session in December 2018, which were included in the 21st revised edition of the UN Model Regulations.
While there is a constant effort to maintain harmonisation, the practicalities and risks involved in the transport of dangerous goods by air are such that ICAO often feels the need to vary from the UN provisions. For instance, while the Panel included references to intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) and portable tanks in the definition of self-accelerating polymerisation temperature (SAPT), this was accompanied by a note to specify that they are not permitted for transport by air. This follows an earlier decision by the Panel that definitions should be included in the Tis even if the item being defined is not permitted for transport by air.
In a similar vein, while DGP updated the list of references to provisions for which the transport of excepted packages of radioactive material would apply, but left out reference to the packaging orientation arrow provisions in 5;3.2.12 b), as it saw no value in it for air transport, and reference to the documentation provisions for consignments required to be shipped under exclusive use in 5;220.127.116.11.1 i), as these consignments would never be transported by air.
The new provisions agreed by the UN experts to exempt battery-powered data loggers and other similar devices from the provisions of the regulations led to considerable discussion. That exception applies only to devices attached to or integrated into containers, overpacks and packagings, not to devices shipped as cargo, but ICAO remains concerned that such devices may still be hazardous to an aircraft. It was decided to refer the matter to the newly formed Safe Carriage of Goods Specific Working Group for its opinion, even though there are concerns that any delay may cause problems in multimodal transport.
In considering this matter, DGP identified two areas of concern: the hazards posed by the potential for devices to cause electromagnetic interference with aircraft systems; and the hazards posed by the lithium batteries themselves. It was pointed out that the lithium batteries included in the devices would be active during transport and may be attached to packages containing dangerous goods that, in the normal course of events, would need to be separated from fully regulated lithium batteries carried as cargo.
In general, it was felt that mention needed to be made to address the issue, especially as the use of data loggers is becoming more widespread. However, it was also felt that the conditions under which the exception is permitted should be more stringent than those in the UN text. It was eventually agreed to adopt a new 1;18.104.22.168 i):
data loggers and cargo tracking devices with installed lithium batteries, attached to or placed in packages, overpacks or unit load devices are not subject to any provisions of these Instructions provided the following conditions are met:
1) the data loggers and cargo tracking devices must be in use or intended for use during transport;
2) each cell or battery must meet the provisions of Part 2;9.3 a), e), f) (if applicable) and g);
3) for a lithium ion cell, the Watt-hour rating must not be more than 20 Wh;
4) for a lithium ion battery, the Watt-hour rating must not be more than 100 Wh;
5) for a lithium metal cell, the lithium content must not be more than 1 g;
6) for a lithium metal battery, the aggregate lithium content must not be more than 2 g;
7) the number of data loggers or cargo tracking devices in or on any package or overpack must be no more than the number required to track or to collect data for the specific consignment;
8) the data loggers or cargo tracking devices must be capable of withstanding the shocks and loadings normally encountered during transport;
9) the data loggers or cargo tracking devices must not be capable of generating a dangerous evolution of heat; and
10) the data loggers or cargo tracking devices must meet defined standards for electromagnetic radiation to ensure that the operation of the device does not interfere with aircraft systems.
Note - This exception does not apply where the data loggers or cargo tracking devices are offered for transport as a consignment in accordance with Packing Instruction 967 or 970.
The Panel also felt it would be useful to review the provisions for active devices in Packing Instructions 967 and 970 and to develop a more systematic, performance-based approach to developing future provisions.
Also on the topic of lithium batteries, the Panel was not entirely happy with Special Provision A154, which prohibits the transport by air of lithium batteries that have been identified as being damaged or defective, and which had been revised to align with the UN Model Regulations. It seemed sensible to focus on determining that batteries are not damaged or defective, rather than take the UN approach of assessing whether they are.
It was decided to add a new sentence at the beginning of A154:
Lithium ion cells or batteries and lithium metal cells or batteries, identified as being defective for safety reasons, that have the potential of producing a dangerous evolution of heat, fire or short circuit are forbidden for transport (e.g. those being returned to the manufacturer for safety reasons or cells or batteries that cannot be diagnosed as defective prior to transport).
The subsequent paragraph and indents are also amended to read:
Lithium ion cells or batteries and lithium metal cells or batteries identified as being damaged such that they do not conform to the type tested according to the applicable provisions of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria are forbidden for transport. For the purposes of this special provision, these may include, but are not limited to:
a) cells or batteries that have leaked or vented;
b) cells or batteries that cannot be diagnosed prior to transport; or
c) cells or batteries that have sustained physical or mechanical damage.
Examining the new text adopted by the UN experts on determining the transport index for overpacks and freight containers, the Panel made some revisions. For instance, while the UN text refers to a shipment from a single shipper, the Panel saw this as unnecessary, since overpacks can only be offered by a single shipper. Similarly, the new sentence for non-rigid overpacks was also deemed superfluous, as the requirements are the same as those for rigid overpacks. ICAO plans to take this back to the UN TDG Sub-committee, but for now the new text of 5;22.214.171.124.2 will read:
The transport index for each overpack or freight container must be determined as the sum of the transport indices of all the packages contained therein. However, for a rigid overpack, or a freight container from one single shipper, the shipper may determine the transport index by direct measurement of dose rate. The transport index for a non-rigid overpack must be determined only as the sum of the transport indices of all the packages. within the overpack.
New marking requirements for radioactive material were added to 5;126.96.36.199, although again the Panel thought the UN text contained an error, which will be raised with the TDG Sub-committee. The amendment involves the addition of a new final sentence in that paragraph:
Any mark on the package made in accordance with the requirements of 188.8.131.52 a) and b) and 184.108.40.206 c) relating to the package type that does not relate to the UN number and proper shipping name must be removed or covered.
The figure of the lithium battery mark in Figure 5-3 has been revised but the Panel decided to add a note to clarify that the larger mark, which appears in the 2019-2020 edition of the Tis, may still be used.
The Panel agreed amendments to Packing Instructions 492 (for UN 3292), 870 (for UN 2794 and 2795), 871 (for UN 3028) and 872 (for UN 2800); these all relate to batteries (not lithium batteries). Once more, though, the Panel varied from the UN text
In most other respects, barring some necessary editorial variations, the latest set of UN amendments were adopted into the TIs for the 2021-2022 edition (see for instance HCB’s report on similar discussions at the autumn Joint Meeting that starts on page 50 of this issue).
The full list of changes can be found in the report of the DGP session, available at www.icao.int/safety/DangerousGoods/DGP27/DGP.27.WP.049.FullReport.en.pdf.
There was lengthy discussion of a list of other, air-specific amendments that had been agreed at earlier sessions of the Panel and its working groups. It was confirmed that the draft training provisions, which introduce the concept of competency-based training, that had been included as Attachment 4 in the 2019-2020 edition of the TIs would replace the training provisions in Part 1;4 in the 2021-2022 edition, although there were some amendments from the earlier text on the basis of discussions at the DGP Working Group on Training and on feedback from industry and states that had begun the process of implementing the new provisions.
Those changes include a restructuring of the material to align with similar competency-based training and assessment guidance in other ICAO manuals; provisions to take account of different levels of proficiency; a method for identifying the tasks for which an employee has been trained and assessed; and a transitional period to allow the training provisions in the 2019-2020 edition to be used until the end of 2022.
It was proposed that designated postal operators (DPOs) should offer mail articles containing dry ice as a refrigerant for Category B infectious substances (UN 3373) separately from other mail; this would ensure that such shipments are subject to an operator acceptance check so that appropriate safety measures can be taken and ensure that information is provided to the pilot-in-command. Some thought this was already the case but there is evidence that DPOs do not always comply. It was agreed that including specific references would remove any ambiguity, while the proposal was revised to refer to Packing Instruction 954 to simplify the text.
An amendment to Packing Instruction Y963 was proposed to clarify that dry ice as a refrigerant could be packed in a unit load device (ULD) containing ID 8000 — Consumer commodities prepared by a single shipper, but that dangerous goods other than ID 8000 could not be packed in the same outer packaging. The revised packing instruction would align with the allowance for dry ice provided in Packing Instruction 954. The amendment, subject to some minor revisions, was agreed.
Amendments to Special Provisions A88 (on the transport of pre-production prototypes and low production run lithium batteries that have not been subject to UN testing) and A99 (on the transport of lithium batteries larger than 35 kg) were proposed to require approval from the State of the Operator in addition to the State of Origin. The amendment was agreed, though there was still some pressure to add the State of Destination as well.
An amendment allowing for electronic information to be provided to the pilot-in-command in accordance with Part 7;4.1.1 of the TIs was proposed. While there was support for allowing electronic information, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) suggested more consideration was needed before introducing an allowance. The Federation felt there may be a need for a paper copy to be kept in addition to the electronic version, which might not always be accessible by the flight crew in an emergency. Further discussion of this issue will take place through a working group.
Two proposals related to battery-powered equipment capable of generating extreme heat carried by passengers or crew were presented, both to achieve the same objective of ensuring measures to mitigate this risk apply to all batteries, not just lithium. Both amendments proposed adding a new item for Table 8-1. A revised amendment was agreed that incorporated the intent of both proposals into the existing element for non-spillable wet batteries, and the element was expanded to include nickel-metal hydride and dry batteries.
A proposal to add a specific reference to dry and nickel-metal hydride batteries in the provisions for dangerous goods carried by passengers or crew had been agreed at an earlier session but there had been no allowance made for passengers to carry a spare battery. While some though such a provision unnecessary, given these batteries are exempted from the provisions of the TIs if they comply with special provisions A123 or A199, the lack of an explicit allowance creates an ambiguity. It was proposed that one spare battery should be allowed, though it was then pointed out that passengers are already permitted to carry an unlimited number of spares. However, most Panel member supported the amendment.
A report on the activities of the ICAO/Universal Postal Union (UPU) Contact Committee was provided. Among the topics under discussion on the committee was the creation of a centralised dangerous goods reporting system for incidents involving dangerous goods, including unpermitted dangerous goods discovered in the post, and the use of security screening to detect undeclared dangerous goods.
Other topics included efforts being taken by UPU with respect to advance electronic data, work being done by ICAO with respect to drones and challenges that may be encountered with respect to the post, security certifications, lithium batteries, controls over the introduction of dangerous goods in the post, use of customs declaration systems for the purpose of rejecting prohibited dangerous goods from the post, dry ice in the post and e-commerce. The Contact Committee was due to meet again in the first quarter of 2020, when it was anticipated that the topic of extra-territorial offices of exchange would be added to the agenda.
An update on the progress of a performance-based package standard for lithium batteries that the SAE International G27 Lithium Battery Packaging Performance Committee was developing had been given at an earlier session. Once this work is complete, DGP will need to consider whether or not to adopt the standard in the TIs. If it is, then measures will need to be taken to provide reassurance to the aviation industry that a battery or package combination that has successfully passed the standard test is safe for transport. Draft text to address this need was developed for a possible new chapter in Part 6 of the TIs as a basis for discussion.
The draft included a requirement for identification that a packaging and its contents are consistent with the actual tests performed – this is seen as vital if operators are to have any confidence in the system. There will also need to be a clear set of marks on the package to identify that it meets the standards, which should include the name of the manufacturer and some form of audit trail, and to identify state concerned in the approval.
One of the two co-chairs of the G-27 Committee was in attendance and appreciated the discussion, stressing that the Committee itself is only interested in the packaging standard and that it is a matter for ICAO to decide how to use it. The chair of the UN TDG Sub-committee was also in attendance and noted that the UN experts have already embarked on discussions aimed at establishing a general mechanism for determining if a packaging is able to mitigate the hazards associated with articles that have the potential to produce excessive heat, which would include a method of determining who tested the package, what the results were and whether a particular package had been subject to additional testing. The outcome of this work may go a long way to allaying the fears of the aviation industry.[post_title] => Air: More than batteries [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => air-more-than-batteries [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-02-05 11:07:44 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-02-05 11:07:44 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=16052 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )
The very specific issues pertaining to the carriage of dangerous goods by air mean that ICAO's Dangerous Goods Panel must interpret the UN provisions