It’s a double delight for the air cargo industry from the aviation regulators related to dangerous goods (DG). The Ministry of Civil Aviation has assured the trade on renewal of institutes imparting training on dangerous goods and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extends the validity of Dangerous Goods Regulations till June 30.

On April 23, businessline was the first paper to write about the issue.

These double notifications would allow agents to handle DG shipments and the training institutes shall also be allowed to start giving training for dangerous goods (DG) handling, which had stopped and was not happening for want of procedures and what is going to be taught, said CK Govil, President, Air Cargo Agents Association of India (ACAAI), the national association representing the air cargo industry in the country.

In the last few days, clearance of DG and even air lifting of non-DG, was in trouble, due to issues related to Competency-Based Training and Assessment (CBTA) model effective April 1, 2024. There was a lack of accessible training programmes pertinent to DG in India and no training institute has been “re-certified” by the DGCA. This affected IATA certified freight forwarders.

The ACAAI wrote to DGCA, stating that its members across India had been trained hitherto through the DGCA approved training institutes. However, consequent to the implementation of the CBTA from April 1, 2024, the DGCA approval of DG Training Programme has reportedly not been renewed after it expired on March 31, 2024.

The association’s members have to comply with the guidelines of DGCA and IATA. However, due to absence of any DGCA approved DG Training institute from April 1, 2024, employees of the association’s members would neither be able to get trained in the ‘basic’ nor in the ‘refresher’ training programme. This will put their business at severe risk and loss as well as compliance. This is a serious concern to ACAAI management, the association had said.

After a meeting between members of ACAAI and Civil Aviation Secretary, the MoCA on Thursday, said that by the end of May, 2024 at least 12 organisations (almost 70 per cent of the organisations conducting DG training as on March 31, 2024) would be available to impart the training. Thus, there is no shortage of approved organisations to cater the industry requirements. However, the extension of the validity of DG certificates that are expired or expiring between April 1, 2024 and May 31, 2024 is being considered up to June 30, 2024.

The DGCA said that for smooth transition from convention to CBTA Approach in Dangerous Goods Regulations Training, it has been decided to grant extension of eligibility period for recurrent training of all categories/functions of Dangerous Goods Regulations Training to meet the requirements of the CAR Section 11, Series C Part I, Issue IV dated January 25, 2023.

Govil told businessline, that the extension given by MoCA is for the DG certificates, which have a validity of 24 months for the last recurrent training held. The certificates which had expired (i.e. persons who had done the training in the month of April and May, 2022) the validity of the DG handling certificates post March 31, 2024 wherein the new ‘competence based training and assessment approach’ had been implemented by DGCA.

“Having a valid DG certificate is crucial for handling pharmaceutical items and also the biological samples. If the DG certificate is not valid, an agent cannot handle these (Dangerous Goods) shipments and can result in shipments not being exported,” he said.

J Krishnan, of S Natesa Iyer Logistics LLP, a Chennai-based freight forwarder, said licencing of all personnel who are involved in shipping DG by air, requires mandatory training and certification by institutes approved by DGCA. This encompasses shippers, freight forwarders, terminal operators and airline staff.

This licence has a validity of only 24 months and needs a recurrent training and an examination to extend the validity. Until 2023, this training was based on a ‘category criteria’ and was modified to ‘competency’ criteria. This switchover, required redesigning the training syllabus and revised training manual DGCA, had extended the time frame to implement the revised training module until March 31, 2024.

However, the process of approving the existing training school has witnessed hiccups and effective from April 1, 2024 this training was unavailable Pan India, said Krishnan.