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Medical drone delivery: IATA Dangerous Goods Cat 6 training successfully completed

The Drone Office is involved in several research projects focusing on medical drone delivery solutions.

Exchanges with medical practitioners and teams at partnering hospitals highlighted that many user cases for the use of drones or UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) involve the transport of dangerous goods:

  • Infectious substances, such as blood samples sent for analysis to the lab

  • Toxic substances, such as certain medicines, for example some cancer treatments

  • Flammable gas, or lithium batteries embedded in medical equipment.

As a result, the scaling up of logistic services by drones to serve the healthcare industry requires compliance of operations with relevant regulations for the transport of dangerous goods by air.

Such regulations have been in place at the international level for decades for manned aviation, aircraft and helicopters, and IATA DGR are standard best practices applied across the globe.

Therefore, it is likely that regulations applicable to the transport of dangerous goods by drones will be aligned with these existing regulations, amended to take into consideration the specificities of drones.

Transporting dangerous goods by drones require 2 distinct approvals by the aviation authority – at least in the UK:

  • the regular approval of UAS operations as a regular drone operator

  • the specific approval to transport dangerous goods by the DG team that is normally dealing with manned aviation and air cargo.

IATA training Category 6 is the most demanding training category. It refers to responsibilities of operators and ground handling agents in the acceptance of dangerous goods for transport other than those related to the detailed requirements for radioactive material.

Anne-Lise Scaillierez, partner at The Drone Office, completed the training and final examination with Dangerous Goods Online Training Ltd, a CAA approved trainer, under the stewardship of Paul Horner. She extends her warm thanks to the team.

Regulations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air

Dangerous Goods are articles or substances which are capable of posing a hazard to health, safety, property, or the environment and which are shown in the list of dangerous goods in the Regulations.

Their transport is regulated by the United Nations Subcommittee of experts on the transport of dangerous goods (SCoETDG). The subcommittee developed and continuously update the UN “Recommendations for the Transport of Dangerous Goods – Model Regulations”.

The ICAO (International Civil Aviation organization) has used these UN recommendations as the basis for developing the regulations for the safe transport of dangerous goods by air by any aircraft. The ICAO regulations are codified in the document referred to as the Technical Instructions, document 9284.

The ICAO Technical Instructions are embedded into UK Law via the Air Navigation Order 2016 “dangerous goods may only be transported in accordance with the ICAO Technical Instructions”.

IATA is the International Air Transport Association. IATA published annually their IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations, the “DGR”. They contain all the requirements of ICAO TI, and include additional requirements which are more restrictive than the TI and reflect industry best practices standards, or operational considerations. IATA DGR is a kind of user manual that is followed by most, if not all, airlines and shippers worldwide.

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