The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) today issued a reminder to companies shipping ‘dangerous goods’ by air to follow the correct procedures to avoid endangering the safety of aircraft. The advice follows the successful prosecution of an aircraft component supplier from Dorset for sending an oxygen generator by air to the United States in an incorrectly packaged condition.
Burwood Aviation Supplies Ltd was fined £5,000 at Chelmsford Crown Court on 23 January 2013 for one breach of the Dangerous Goods Regulations. The company, which pleaded guilty to the offence, was also ordered to pay prosecution costs to the CAA of £2,164.42.
On 12 April Burwood Aviation Supplies arranged transportation of the chemical oxygen generator, which is used to provide emergency oxygen to aircraft passengers and crew, from Stansted Airport on a cargo flight to a company in Kansas, USA. However, the exterior of the box bore no indications that it contained dangerous goods and it was not accompanied by the correct documents.
The recipient of the item reported the matter to the US Federal Aviation Administration, who subsequently informed the CAA.
The CAA said it was vital for all companies transporting dangerous goods by air to follow the correct process. Anyone found to be in breach of the regulations, and thereby endangering flight safety can expect to be prosecuted.
The risks associated with chemical oxygen generators are widely known in the aviation industry. In 1996 a ValuJet DC-9 passenger aircraft crashed into the Florida Everglades killing all 105 passengers and 5 crew. The aircraft was carrying 144 chemical oxygen generators as cargo - loosely packed within five unmarked cardboard boxes. Bubblewrap had been wrongly used as cushioning on the top of each box and the boxes were not secured within the cargo hold. Safety investigators found that the activation of one or more generators in the cargo compartment initiated a fire on the aircraft which led to flight control failure. In the aftermath of this crash, generators were prohibited from being carried as cargo on passenger aircraft.
More information on Dangerous Goods can be found at www.caa.co.uk/dangerousgoods
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The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.