Clearance of dangerous goods, and even air lifting of non-dangerous goods, is in trouble due to issues related to Competency-Based Training and Assessment (CBTA) model effective April 1, 2024.

There seems to be a significant lack of accessible training programmes pertinent to dangerous goods (DG) in India and no training institute has been “re-certified” by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). This will affect IATA certified freight forwarders, said sources in the air cargo industry.

It is learnt that Air Cargo Agents Association of India has written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (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.

Businesses at severe risk

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.

The association has even urged the DGCA to inform the names and details of the DGCA approved training institutes. In case, none of the DG training institutes have got the approval from the DGCA, the association has urged the DGCA to extend implementation of the CBTA programme until an adequate number of such institutes get the approval from the regulator.

Similarly, it is learnt that Air Cargo Forum India (ACFI) has also written to the DGCA on this issue stating due to the introduction of the new CBTA model, many individuals and organisations involved in the handling and transportation of DG goods are facing challenges in accessing appropriate training programmes that align with the new requirements. They may find themselves unable to renew or obtain necessary certifications within the mandated time frame.

DG certification

The association urged the DGCA to consider a general extension of all DG certificates for a suitable period until a certain number of existing training institutes (80 per cent) are certified.

An official of a leading freight forwarding company in Chennai said that CBTA was made mandatory and approved by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. However, IATA jurisdiction does not run in India. In India, DG certificate must be from DGCA authorised institute, not IATA recognised.

The CBTA is a training approach for dangerous goods by air transportation. There are nine categories of Dangerous Goods, including radioactive. Many isotopes imported to scanning can be radioactive; car air bags have inbuilt detonators; lead acid batteries are corrosive; lithium batteries are subject to thermal runways and ignite. These are some of the examples of dangerous goods, and certified DG experts should be able to distinguish between a DG and a non-DG goods before it is allowed on board an aircraft, he said.