Aviation Safety is dependent on shipping a hazardous material in the correct packaging. If you choose the wrong packaging, you could severely injure a transportation worker, harm the environment, or cause catastrophic damage to an aircraft.
The appropriate hazardous materials packaging is based on the most appropriate hazard classification of a product and its physical attributes. For example, you cannot ship corrosive materials in metal packages because corrosives violently react with metal and will eventually destroy the package.
Packaging requirements vary depending on the type, class, and quantity of dangerous goods you are shipping. Often, packing must be tested and certified to meet the requirements of the regulations for shipment of dangerous goods by air. 49 CFR, Part 173 lists the general packaging requirements that apply to bulk and non-bulk packaging, new and reused packaging, and specification and non-specification packaging.
The appropriate packaging is also dependent on the Packing Group of the material. The Packing Group is a grouping of substances (other than those in Hazard Class 2, Class 6 Division 2, and Class 7), in accordance with the degree of danger they present:
- Packing group I: substances presenting high danger;
- Packing group II: substances presenting medium danger; and
- Packing group III: substances presenting low danger.
UN specification packaging, or Performance Oriented Packaging (POP), is required for most air shipments of dangerous goods. POP is packaging that must pass several tests to ensure that packages are strong enough to withstand the shocks, loadings, and atmospheric pressure changes normally encountered during transportation.
Packages that have successfully passed these tests will bear UN markings to certify that they have passed the required tests. The markings indicate the level of testing that a package has passed. See the Package ID Table (below) to assist you in determining the correct packaging identification. The reference for all performance oriented packaging standards and tests can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, Part 178.
Follow these procedures when determining if a package is authorized for use:
- Look up the Proper Shipping Name (PSN) in the Hazardous Materials Table (HMT) in 49 CFR or the Dangerous Goods List in the ICAO TI.
- Locate and follow the appropriate packaging information and instructions in Column 8 on the HMT, or Column 10 on the TI.
- Verify that the package is properly marked IAW Part 178.
- Verify that the package is authorized for the PG indicated in the HMT.
- Verify that Column 7 "Special Provision Codes" or Column 9 "Packing Provisions" does not further restrict the package.
- Check the segregation tables – Be sure not to pack hazmat with incompatible hazardous materials that may react dangerously with other hazardous materials.
- You must carefully follow the information in the package closure instructions. Package manufacturers test UN specification packages with the materials listed in the closure instructions. A variation from the manufacturer's closure instructions could compromise the integrity of the package and result in non-compliance.
- Ensure that your completed package does not exceed the tested weight of the package (in kilograms). See below:
Packing Group tested
and max. gross mass (kg) » Y23
Where can I obtain appropriate packaging for my material?
You can purchase packaging for the shipment of hazardous materials by air through a variety of commercial sources. As the FAA is a government entity, we cannot endorse or recommend a specific supply source for packaging that will meet the regulatory requirements of your materials. However, vendors are readily available on the internet.
Sample UN Markings
Markings for SOLIDS:
UN Code for Fiberboard Box
(4G) and Variable inner-
container material and
configuration (V) » 4GV
Solids or inner
Packagings » S
authorizing mark » USA
Packaging Symbol » UN
mass (kg) » X13
Last two digits
of the year
of manufacture » 08
package » AQ2121
Markings for LIQUIDS:
Package » 1
Category » 1
Gravity » 1.5
Manufacture » 12
Certifying Code » M4071
Materials » A
Group » X
Or "S" for Solid » 250
Manufacture » USA
Package ID Table
The markings indicate the level of testing that a package has passed.
This table provides a reference to assist you in determining the UN package identification. These codes can be found in section 178.504 through 178.523.
|1 – Drums
2 – Barrels
3 – Jerricans
4 – Boxes
5 – Bags
6 – Composite packaging
7 – Pressure receptacle
|A – Steel
B – Aluminum
C – Material Wood
D – Plywood
F – Reconstituted Wood
G – Fiberboard
H – Plastic
L – Textile
M – Paper, Multi-wall
N – Metal other than Steel or Aluminum
P – Glass Porcelain, Stoneware
A, B, or H Drums – Jerricans
A or B Boxes
|X – PG I, II, III
Y – PG II, III
Z – PG III
Density or Specific
For single packages containing liquids, you'll find the specific gravity of a material, i.e. /Y1.5/. For packaging intended for solids or for combination packages, an "S" in uppercase will follow the gross mass, i.e., /X13/S/.
Hydraulic Pressure in Kilo-Pascal (kPa) (applies to liquids). This will follow the specific gravity.
Year of Manufacture
Country Where Package was Manufactured
Code for UN Certifying Agency or Manufacturer