In a major relief to the air cargo industry, the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has extended the validity of ‘recurrent’ certifications till June 30 for transportation of all categories of dangerous goods.

Air passenger traffic has come to a standstill due to the lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic but handling of air cargo continues at airports.

The certification is mandatory for personnel in the aviation industry from pilots to cabin crew to ground handling staff involved in transportation of dangerous goods by air. This includes acceptance, storage, carriage and handling of dangerous goods by air and to execute and sign relevant documents.

Following the lockdown, the DGCA decided to grant the extension of eligibility period for recurrent training of all categories of dangerous goods regulations to meet the requirements of civil aviation. The extension of validity is till June or until the revocation of this circular, whichever is earlier, a circular issued by the DGCA said on Wednesday.

Extension of the validity is ‘temporary’ and not to be considered as an alternative to formal classroom recurrent training. A separate training record of such extended certificates for any verification/audit purposes should be maintained till the end of December, the circular said.

“This is a very proactive and essential move by the DGCA. An IATA accredited agent may face suspension of his accreditation if the mandatory qualification is not there,” said Mathangi Krishnan, an expert in handling dangerous goods and a partner at S Natesa Iyer & Company, a leading freight forwarder. For example, at this Covid-19 juncture, hand-sanitiser has alcohol and is a dangerous commodity, but not many know it, she added.

Welcoming the DGCA’s move, B Govindarajan, Chief Operating Officer of the city-based Tirwin Management Services (P) Ltd, said with the validity of the certification restricted to 24 months, recurrent training is required to ensure that the knowledge is up-to-date. Tirwin had scheduled recurrent training across India to renew its certification. But the lockdown did not allow the company to continue with the training.

The current regulations do not support any alternate training methods. The personnel who could not renew their certification prior to the due date have to again undergo initial training that would demand additional time and money, said Govindarajan. As an DGCA approved and IATA accredited training company, Tirwin had trained over 5,000 people in dangerous goods handling.

Amit Bajaj, President, Domestic Air Cargo Agents Association, said the extension given to all Dangerous Goods Regulations Certification is a big relief. Dangerous Goods certificate holders are needed to certify medicines and essentials commodities fit for air carriage. “We must appreciate them for their proactiveness,” he added.