The training provisions in the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (Doc 9284) are being revised to support the use of a competency-based approach to dangerous goods training. The revisions include changes to the existing requirements and the addition of guidance material to facilitate implementation of such an approach. It is anticipated that the new provisions will be incorporated in the 2019-2020 Edition of the Technical Instructions.

Anyone involved in or subject to dangerous goods training is invited to review the new provisions and to provide feedback through the completion of a survey  by 31 March 2017. The provisions can be downloaded here  and are also provided as advance information in a new Attachment 4 to the 2017-2018 Edition of the Technical Instructions. Based on comments received, additional changes may be considered before making the provisions mandatory.


ICAO’s Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) (Doc 10004), together with its Global Air Navigation Plan (GANT) (Doc 9750), define the means and targets by which ICAO, States and aviation stakeholders can anticipate and efficiently manage air traffic growth while proactively maintaining or increasing safety. The documents and their amendments are approved by the Council prior to endorsement by the Assembly. Their overarching priority is to continually reduce the global accident rate.

The GASP identifies the recruitment and retention of qualified personnel and continued investment in initiatives that develop and enhance the skills of the aviation workforce as a key component towards success in achieving its objectives. This “investing in people” approach enables advances in both educational and training programmes to ensure that employees have the skills necessary to operate the international aviation system safely as it undergoes significant growth and change. The introduction of ICAO provisions that enable more systematic training methodologies include competency-based training and assessment.

Competency-based training and assessment

The goal of competency-based training and assessment is to produce a competent workforce by providing focused training. It does so by identifying key competencies that need to be achieved, determining the most effective way of achieving them and establishing valid and reliable assessment tools to evaluate their achievement.

ICAO introduced the Procedures for Air Navigation Services — Training (PANS-TRG, Doc 9868) as a first step towards competency-based training and assessment in 2006. The aim of the first edition of this document was to provide general guidance on the implementation of competency-based training and assessment, particularly for the multi-crew pilot licence. Since then, competency-based training and assessment guidance has been developed for several aviation functions including aircraft maintenance personnel, designated medical examiners, flight procedure designers, flight validation pilots, air traffic controllers and air traffic safety electronics personnel.


The current training provisions in the Technical Instructions require employees to be trained commensurate with their responsibilities. The intent of this requirement is to ensure all employees perform their dangerous goods functions competently, and a competency-based approach to training and assessment is an effective way to ensure this requirement is met. Other training approaches may also be considered acceptable, as long as they result in the development of trained personnel competent to perform their designated function(s). The draft new requirements in Part 1, Chapter 4 of the Technical Instructions support a competency-based approach to dangerous goods training and assessment, but also allow for other approaches provided they achieve the same result.

An overview of the revisions to the training requirements developed for inclusion in Part 1, Chapter 4 of the Technical Instructions and of the guidance material developed to support a competency-based approach to dangerous goods training is provided below.

Revisions to the training requirements in the Technical Instructions

While the wording of the current training requirements is changed, the principle of “commensurate with responsibilities” and the goal of ensuring all employees perform their functions competently has not. The revisions simply emphasize this principle and goal by supporting a competency-based approach to training and assessment. They require a person to be trained and assessed to demonstrate their competence to perform the function(s) for which they are responsible.

While most of the changes should not have any significant effects on training programmes which meet the current requirements, the following may be considered noteworthy:
  1. the removal of the suggested content of training courses lists provided in Tables 1-4 and 1-5; and
  2. a shift in focus from requiring tests to verify understanding to requiring continuous assessment of competency.

Removal of Tables 1-4 and 1-5

Tables 1-4 and 1-5 of the Technical Instructions currently match various categories of dangerous goods personnel with specific subject matter for which they should be familiar. While these tables are intended as guidance, they are often considered as mandatory requirements which contradicts the overarching principle of “commensurate with responsibilities” required of dangerous goods training curricula. This has led to the unintended consequence of training curricula being developed based on employee titles or positions instead of the functions they perform, resulting in some employees being trained on subject matter unrelated to the functions they perform while not being adequately trained on subject matter that is related to the functions they perform. This approach is in complete contrast to the principles of competency-based training and assessment. By removing the tables, the need for employers to determine the type and level of knowledge necessary to perform specific functions is reinforced and supports the requirement for employees to be trained commensurate with their responsibilities.

Continuous assessment of competency

The Technical Instructions currently require the provision of tests following training to verify understanding. While this conventional approach is useful in determining the degree to which dangerous goods personnel may understand the material, it should not be the only activity that an employer utilizes to assess an employee’s competency in an assigned function. By applying a competency-based approach, standards of performance expected of personnel are established. Once established, these standards support the development of appropriate assessment to ensure that personnel not only understand the subject matter involved in their job, they also have the required skills and knowledge to carry out their functions in compliance with safety standards.

Guidance material to support a competency-based approach to dangerous goods training and assessment

The new guidance material focuses on a competency-based approach to dangerous goods training and assessment. More detailed guidance on the principles behind competency-based training and assessment is contained in the Procedures for Air Navigation Services — Training (PANS-TRG, Doc 9868).

The guidance material includes a competency framework for dangerous goods personnel which describes the functions they perform and is accompanied by a flowchart which illustrates the typical processes of performing these functions. The competency framework is a structure outlining an employee’s expected performance for given functions. It is an essential component of a competency-based approach to training and assessment. The framework consists of competency units, competency elements and performance criteria. Competency standards are defined based on expected job performance in a specific work context. The guidance material describes how an employer would use the competency framework for dangerous goods personnel to develop its own customized framework on which a training curriculum can be developed. It includes a template that can be used to facilitate the determination of what knowledge personnel performing the functions outlined in the framework should maintain.


Surveys can be submitted any time before 31 March 2017. The identity of individuals responding will be kept confidential and only consolidated results will be analysed. They will be reviewed by the Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) prior to finalizing the provisions.

Safety is ICAO’s guiding and most fundamental strategic objective. It cannot be achieved without a competently-trained workforce. Your feedback on the draft material will play an important role in ensuring dangerous goods training provisions establish a framework for employees to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their functions safely and efficiently.

Connect with us: