Air Freight Safety Requirements – Secured Air Cargo

Air Freight Safety Requirements – Top Priority

Air freight safety requirements have top priority. Shippers must adhere to them stringently. Do not leave any stones upturned to meet the requirements.

What happens when Air Cargo Safety Requirements are not met?

The answer in two words: delay, costs. The shipment will need to undergo a detailed screening. A repackaging may be necessary. Hence, the first problem will be the delay and the second will be the charges

What are the Safety Requirements in Shipping by Air

The air cargo safety requirements fall into five broad terms, which are connected directly to the shipment itself.

  1. Contents
  2. Packaging
  3. Location
  4. Persons
  5. Documents

The Primary Question about Safety in Shipping by Air

The most important question a shipper must ask himself is this. Does the consignment put the safety of the people and objects at risk, in anyway, at any time and anywhere?

We shall look at them in detail. One point, however, is too large to discuss here and that is Dangerous Goods, called HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) in short.

Dangerous Goods

Do the contents or rather does any item in the shipment belong to the category of Dangerous Goods? If the answer is in the affirmative, a certified company, holding a valid IATA certification, is the competent authority to do check whether shipping by air is permissible or not. If it is permissible that company should be entrusted the job of packaging the goods as per the set regulations.

Contents of the Shipment –Wobbly Content

Wobbly content might pose a risk to the shipment itself and thereby also to other consignments. If the packaging is not strong enough, the wobbly content could rip open the packaging and spill out.

Packaging Methods and Air Cargo Packaging Materials

The first keyword, here is, tamper-proof. Is the consignment tamper-proof? That means, the packaging is so safe that it cannot be tampered with (manipulated) to smuggle in items that put the flight at risk. One example of how an air cargo shipment was tampered with is the case of how a cargo plane bomb found in Britain was primed to blow up over the US, reported by The Guardian.

Additional information is available, on this site, concerning air freight packaging materials.

Packaging – Important Points

  1. Howto air freight packaging requirements.
  2. Use sturdy packaging materials.
  3. Packaging must be tamper-proof.
  4. All openings, including slits, to be sealed.
  5. If straps are used to secure, use adequate amount.
  6. Use horizontal AND vertical strapping.
  7. Straps to be secured extra with adhesive stickers over the straps.
  8. When using wooden crates make sure they have interlocking corners.
  9. Corner joints of crates to secured safely.
  10. When using pallets, never use honeycombed chocks.
  11. Never use damaged pallets.
  12. Avoid overhang. Cargo must fit within the inner area of the pallet.
  13. Bottom flaps of the cartons on the lowest layer must be sealed.
  14. When multiple cartons are placed on a pallet, as far as possible,use an interlocking method instead of column stacks.
  15. On a pallet with multi-layers use horizontal strapping to secure each layer. Additionally affix a tamper-resistant stickers over the straps.
  16. If consignment contains more than one piece, number them using adhesive stickers ( Example: 1 of 10). Use identification codes for each carton/package.
  17. NEVER include goods that are classified as Dangerous Goods in general cargo. It is a punishable offence.
    As far as possible, keep the consignment below 160cm height.
  18. Use “tamper-proof” packaging. It is not the same as “tamper-evident” ( To know more: Tamper Evidence or Tamper Proof, That is the Question)


The term location take into account, not only the location of the cargo, which is “ready for carriage” but also a few other points. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Items belonging one shipment were manufactured at another facility and transported to another location to be packaged.
  2. The thus packaged items were then assembled together at the new location as the final product.
  3. The final product was then kept in storage.
  4. Finally the product was taken from the storage and a packaging company packaged the product.

How safe was the consignment in all these four locations? It is quite possible that more than one person had access to the pieces or the finished product at different points in time. Anybody who had access to the item(s) could have manipulated or tampered with the pieces.


Ensuring and maintaining safety in air freight shipping requires mandatory and extensive procedures. These are unavoidable as they imply taking responsibility. Clearly define, document and archive.

Authorised Personnel

Taking responsibility sets forth stringent restrictions without any loopholes. This might appear to be a bureaucratic hassle but is unavoidable and a competent authority needs to address it.

Limiting access to items of shipments is the first item on the list. In order to implement air freight safety measures, the initial step is to appoint a person, who will be responsible for them. The responsibility must be in the hands of this person and he should maintain the protocols. I shall use the term Air Freight Safety Supervisor (AFSS) to denote this person in charge.

The AFSS must define who might

  1. Access the keys to the location
  2. Enter the location (e.g. warehouse)
  3. Access the consignment
  4. Package the consignment
  5. Hand over the consignment to a transport company
  6. Access documents to the consignment

Protocols are to be kept in the form of

  1. Registers
  2. Filed sheets

These documents must carry the date and time of entry and exit, the names of the people who entered, their identity details such as ID Card numbers.

Air Freight Safety Protocol – Surveillance

The location of the cargo must have round the clock tamper-proof video surveillance. The surveillance data is restricted information. Not everybody may have access to them. To be precise, the data must be kept tamper-proof.

The surveillance must include, not only the complete inner area, without any blind spots, but also the external immediate access area, again without any blind spots.

Air Cargo Documents

Documents can be manipulated, replaced or destroyed. They also reveal contents of the consignment.
Hence they need to be kept under lock and key.

Transport and Transfer of Air Cargo

The transfer of the consignment to the haulage company must be made under supervision. If you are a certified by the government authority as “Known Consignor”, the haulage company must send a certified driver, who can prove his certification.

Transport as “Secured Cargo”

If you are certified as a “Known Consignor”, then only a “Regulated Agent” (that includes the haulage company and the driver) might transport your air shipment, so that the “secured cargo” status remains unaffected.

Known Consignor

The civil aviation authority of the country of the shipper will have a division that is authorised to issue a “Known Consignor” certificate to a shipper. The authority will go through an exhaustive inspection process and when satisfied will issue this certificate. Contact your local authority or your freight forwarder to get information regarding the procedures.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *