Annex 18 – The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air


Developed by ICAO, the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) contained in the nineteen Technical Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also called Chicago Convention) are applied universally and produce a high degree of technical uniformity which has enabled international civil aviation to develop in a safe, orderly and efficient manner.


Dangerous Goods are defined as those things which may cause danger to aircraft and/or its occupants if they are carried, and must therefore either be prohibited altogether or carried only when subject to specific restrictions on their packaging, quantity carried, stowage location, proximity to other items, or category of flight.


ICAO Annex 18 to the Chicago Convention: The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air deals with all aspects of this subject. In general, it sets down the broad general principles which determine whether items are acceptable for carriage by air. One of the applicable Standards requires that Dangerous Goods are carried only in accordance with ICAO Doc 9284 Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air which is generally referred to as the "Technical Instructions". The Technical Instructions amplify the basic provisions of Annex 18 and contain all the detailed instructions necessary for the safe international transport of dangerous goods by air. Contracting States are required under Annex 18 to have inspection and enforcement procedures in place which will ensure that all Dangerous Goods are only carried in full compliance with the stated requirements. By requiring that appropriate National legislation is required, this system ensures governmental control over the carriage of dangerous goods by air and provides for a world-wide harmonization of safety standards.


The material in this Annex was developed by the ICAO Air Navigation Commission (ANC). Historically, the concern of transport of dangerous goods in aviation goes back to 1976 as a result of a Recommendation of the ICAO Accident Investigation and Prevention Divisional Meeting (held in Montréal from 3 to 24 June 1974); further to that, in consultation with Member States, the ICAO Secretariat undertook a study of problems being encountered in the transport of dangerous goods on aircraft. A Study Group was established to assist the Secretariat in the development of an outline of ICAO specifications required to ensure a high level of safety without unduly impeding the flow of dangerous goods by air and also to prepare recommendations concerning the means of developing these specifications fully and of maintaining them in an up-to-date state once developed. Based upon the work done by the Study Group, it was decided that a Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) should be established to develop SARPS containing provisions relating to all major aspects of the transport of dangerous goods by air, using as a basis the Recommendations of the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and the Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Panel was also to develop a supporting technical manual containing all the detailed material necessary for international adherence to the SARPS.


The Dangerous Goods Panel held its first five meetings in Montréal, as follows:

  1. 12-28 January 1977;
  2. 2-13 May 1977;
  3. 28 March to 14 April 1978;
  4. 10-25 January 1980; and
  5. 27 January to 12 February 1981.


Further to the recommendation made by the ICAO Air Navigation Commission after the fifth meeting of the Dangerous Goods Panel, the new Annex 18 - The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air and the Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air were first adopted by the ICAO Council on 26 June 1981, setting 1 January 1983 as its effective date and 1 January 1984 as its applicability date. The Technical Instructions are intended to facilitate transport while giving a level of safety such that dangerous goods can be carried without placing an aircraft or its occupants at risk, providing all the requirements are fulfilled.


The subject of transport of dangerous goods by air is kept up-to-date by the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) which meets periodically to review comments received from States and interested international organizations, to consider any changed recommendations of the United Nations Subcommittee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods or the International Atomic Energy Agency, and to prepare revised editions of Annex 18 and the related Technical Instructions. Amendments recommended by the DGP are reviewed by the Air Navigation Commission. The Council of ICAO then considers, with a view to approval, the amended version of the Technical Instructions and authorizes their publication.


The Annex and Manual contain detailed instructions and specifications on the labelling, packaging, handling, carrying and processing of dangerous material (more than 3,000 commodities); both have enhanced the ability of airlines to transport dangerous goods safely with the minimum amount of disruption.


Annex 18 - Front Page

Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air – Front Page