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Dangerous Goods Still a Risk to Passenger Safety

As many Britons prepare to fly away for their summer holidays, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is reminding air passengers that dangerous items must not be carried on aircraft. With the current emphasis on security measures

As many Britons prepare to fly away for their summer holidays, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is reminding air passengers that dangerous items must not be carried on aircraft. With the current emphasis on security measures at UK airports, the CAA wants to make sure that passengers do not overlook the risks posed by “dangerous goods”, which include items such as culinary blowtorches, fireworks and other explosives as well as substances such as petrol, lighter fuel and weed killer. Dangerous goods are subject to additional restrictions with most being forbidden for transport anywhere on the aircraft (unlike knives or scissors which may be carried safely in checked baggage).

Geoff Leach, Manager of the Dangerous Goods Office at the CAA, said: “The majority of passengers are very careful when packing their luggage and know which items can and cannot be taken on board. Whilst we are all made aware of the security restrictions imposed, passengers still need to be reminded that some items, which are relatively innocuous in everyday use, are capable of posing a serious risk to the occupants of an aircraft, no matter where they are carried on the aircraft.

He added: “One issue is the danger of fire from inappropriately packed batteries and battery powered devices. Passengers frequently travel with electronic gadgets and, although the batteries in these rarely pose a safety problem, if they are loose or the equipment is inadvertently activated there is a danger of fire.”

In February 2007, a fire started in an overhead locker in an aircraft that had just taken off from New York JFK Airport. Prompt action by cabin crew ensured that the fire was extinguished without any injuries to passengers or crew, but the aircraft had to return to New York for an emergency landing. Although still under investigation, it is believed that the fire was caused by a battery in an overhead locker, carried on board by a cameraman, which had short-circuited and overheated.

An example of the risks of carrying dangerous goods would be an incident where smoke flares in a passenger’s bag were set off. Another involved the detonation of a number of air bag inflators. Both incidents occurred prior to boarding but had these occurred during flight the consequences could have been very serious.

Dangerous goods that must NOT be taken on board are:

  • explosives, such as fireworks, flares, toy gun caps;

  • gases, such as culinary blowtorches, camping or compressed gas cylinders, tear gas, mace or CS gas devices;

  • flammable materials such as petrol, lighter fuel, paint, thinners, non-safety matches, firelighters;

  • poisons, such as weed killers, insecticides; and

  • corrosives, such as filled car batteries.

Cigarette lighters are only allowed ‘on the person’ but are not permitted in passenger baggage, as they are flammable.

Goods that may be carried by passengers include:

  • gas powered hair curlers (one per person), provided the safety cover is fitted at all times. Separate refills are not permitted;

  • safety matches or a single lighter when carried on the person. One lighter per person may be carried through central search. Lighters form part of the passenger allowance permitted in the one litre capacity transparent bag and can either be placed inside the bag or screened separately. It is very important that passengers do not place the lighter into their cabin bag after screening – it must be carried on the person for the duration of the flight. Separate lighter refills are not permitted; and

  • battery powered wheelchairs in the hold – passengers should contact their airline in advance to check whether special conditions apply.

Passengers can check the instructions covering dangerous goods on their flight ticket or on the website of the airline they are travelling with. The CAA Travelling Safely leaflet also contains similar information. There are also notices on display at the airport check-in desks and advice can be sought from the check-in staff.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.