So you are in a flight department without any Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), you want some, but have no idea where to begin. Well let's try starting at the beginning! No, on second thought, let's start at the middle!

— James Albright





I've written a complete set of SOPs that was used by a management company I used to work for, has since been adopted by many other companies, and is currently in use at my company. These SOPs have been through countless audits, so they have been vetted. The only problem is that they are written for my operation, not yours. But you can easily adapt them.

There are eleven chapters and you might be best off by starting somewhere other than the first chapter, which is helpfully called Chapter Zero. But it would be a good idea to skim through everything: An SOP Starter Pack. Each chapter contains a presentation of the material, ideas on where to start, how to start, and a Microsoft Word Document file you can customize for you operation.

1 — Why this chapter matters

2 — SMS, ICAO, ISBAO and other alphabetty spaghetti

3 — The chapter itself

4 — Where to start

5 — How to start

6 — Word file



Why this chapter matters

This is the chapter outlines your dangerous goods (or Hazardous Materials) policies

This chapter includes:

  • Dangerous goods categories
  • The various categories and the marking symbols used
  • Allowed exceptions
  • Procedures
  • Phone numbers to call


SMS, ICAO, ISBAO and other alphabetty spaghetti

The International Civil Aviation Administration (ICAO) dictates how things happen in aviation worldwide, with exceptions permitted within a country's airspace. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration has made quite a few exceptions, but has been working over the years to whittle those down in number. Even if you never venture outside the sovereign airspace of your country, ICAO rules will impact you at some point.

If you fly internationally, you will need a Safety Management System (SMS). Even if only fly domestically, you may find that an SMS is required by your operator or your insurance broker. You will definitely find that SMS will improve how you fly.

One of the ways you can demonstrate your adherence to SMS and other best practices is to get inspected by an approved auditor, such as the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), who can measure you against the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO).

This chapter includes references to ICAO Annexes, which are the regulations that cover international aviation. Among the references throughout this chapter:

  • "NX6" — Annex 6: Operation of Aircraft


The chapter itself

Note: I have used "Acme Corp" as the company name. Unless that is your company's name, you should substitute your company's name wherever you see Acme Corp.

10 Dangerous Goods

[NX6 2.1.2]

10.1 Definition

Dangerous goods are defined as substances or materials which have been determined by the Secretary of Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce and which has been so designated.

Acme Corp Flight Department is not a carrier of dangerous goods, with the exception of certain items listed in 10.2 Exceptions. This section is intended as a familiarization of what is considered dangerous goods and the proper markings for shipping them.

10.1.1 Dangerous Goods Categories

Dangerous goods fall into nine basic categories:

1. Explosives

2. Gases

3. Flammable liquids

4. Flammable solids or substances

5. Oxidizing substances

6. Poisonous and infectious substances

7. Radioactive substances

8. Corrosives

9. Other Regulated Materials (ORMs)

Dangerous Goods warning labels have been developed for each category. Class 1 – Explosives

Any chemical compound, mixture, or device that is designed to function by explosion, which is a substantially instantaneous release of gas and heat. Examples: Dynamite, blasting caps, fireworks, paper caps for toy pistols, and percussion caps. The markings for Class 1 materials are as follows:

image Class 2 – Gases

Compressed, liquefied, or dissolved under pressure. Examples: Carbon monoxide, hydrogen, oxygen, chlorine, carbon dioxide, and neon.

image Class 3 – Flammable Liquid

A liquid having a flash point below 100°F. Pyroforic liquid is any liquid that ignites spontaneously in dry or moist air at or below 130°F. Combustible liquid is any liquid having a flash point at or above 100°F and below 200°F. Examples: Kerosene and butane.

image Class 4 – Flammable Solids or Substances

Any solid material (other than an explosive) that is liable to cause fire through friction, retained heat, manufacturing, or processing. It can be ignited readily and burns so vigorously and persistently, that it creates a serious transportation hazard. Examples: Metallic Sodium and Potassium.

image Class 5 – Oxidizing Substances

Any substance, such as chlorate, inorganic peroxide, or nitrate, that accelerates the combustion of organic matter by readily yielding oxygen. Examples: Hydrogen Peroxide, Chlorine Bleaching Powder, Ammonium Nitrate, Lauroyl Peroxide (bleaching agent), and Succinic Acid Peroxide (antiseptic).

image Class 6 – Poisonous and Infectious Substances

Poisonous Materials are liquids or solids so toxic to humans that they are a hazard to health during transportation. An irritant is a substance that, upon contact with fire or air, gives off dangerous or intense fumes. Etiologic Agents are living microorganisms or their toxin that causes (or may cause) human disease. Examples: Nitric Oxide, Arsenic, Strychnine, and Cyanide irritants (tear gas and chemical mace).

image Class 7 – Radioactive Substances

A liquid or solid that spontaneously gives off ionizing radiation.

image Class 8 – Corrosive

Any liquid or solid that causes visible destruction or irreversible damage to human tissue. It may also be a liquid that has a severe corrosion rate on steel or aluminum. Examples: Paint remover, soda lime, and battery acid. Wet spillable batteries when properly packaged would be considered an acceptable item.

image Class 9 – Miscellaneous Dangerous Substances

Any material that may pose an unreasonable risk to health and safety or property when transported in commerce and does not meet any of the definitions of the hazard classes specified previously. Examples: Carbon dioxide solid (dry ice), sodium fluoride, manganese dioxide (matches), and magnetized materials. Dry ice, when properly packaged, in the maximum amount of four lbs. per passenger, is an acceptable item.


10.2 Exceptions

Any item or package that has a Dangerous Goods label, or is marked ORM, cannot be accepted for transportation, unless the item is listed in the exceptions section. These items commonly carried by passengers are not considered dangerous in small quantities:

a. Personal toilet articles not to exceed 75 ounces per person (example: hairspray, aerosol perfume)

b. Alcoholic beverages

c. Aerosol containers

d. Small arms ammunition in checked luggage

e. Dry ice is categorized as ORM but is not considered hazardous in the above quantity restrictions

Suspicion of any dangerous goods present in authorized areas or shipment of such material must be reported to the PIC immediately.

Acme Corp Flight Department will remind passengers of the Dangerous Goods policy in a note at the bottom of the flight itinerary.

10.3 Dangerous Goods Emergencies

This section provides information on how to respond to an inadvertent spill or release of dangerous goods aboard the aircraft.

10.3.1 General Procedures

a. Notify the PIC

b. Assess situation (fire is always a concern)

c. Identify the material ASAP

d. Approach the “danger area” cautiously

e. Avoid inhaling vapors and fumes

f. Do not assume gases and vapors are harmless due to lack of odor

g. Do not walk through contaminated area

h. Do not attempt cleanup without the proper equipment

Once risk is determined and the substance is identified, or if unable to accurately identify the material:

10.3.2 Notify Authorities

a. Director of Aviation

b. Airport manager

c. Public safety personnel (ARRF, law enforcement, etc.)

d. Request assistance

10.3.3 If No Spill, or No Fire

a. Notify PIC

b. Attempt to identify material

c. Assess risks

d. Call CHEMTREC (if required)

10.3.4 Land to Remove Danger Fire

a. Extinguish fire

b. Do not use water without identifying substance

c. Notify PIC

d. Utilize respiratory protection (smoke hoods, wet towels, etc.)

e. Move passenger away from area

f. Contain the fire site

g. Attempt to identify the material

h. Emergency landing

i. Notify fire personnel ASAP Spillage or Leakage

a. Notify PIC

b. Move PAX away from area

c. Use respiratory protection (smoke hoods, wet towels, etc.)

d. Do not allow contact with any spilled material

e. Do not spray with H2O until material identified

f. Call CHEMTREC (if required)

g. Land to remove hazard Other Resources

These agencies are available to answer questions regarding a hazardous material and/or dangerous good incident or accident.:

CHEMTREC (24 hour) 800-262-8200

National Response Center (NRC) 800-424-8802

Center for Disease Control 800-311-3435

Local Department of Emergency Services


Where to start

A great place to start is:, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Hazmat website.

Another good source is from the NBAA:


How to start

With each chapter it is a good idea to:

  1. Talk it over with your team, get their ideas on how to best accomplish the chapter's goals given your unique situation. All ideas are worth considering, write them down in a way the person offering it agrees fully captures the idea.
  2. Give the team time to digest the proposals.
  3. Ask the people with the right background to massage the ideas into concise concepts, then have your best wordsmith turn those concepts into paragraphs. The paragraphs need to be in plain spoken sentences, easy to read, and written at the fifth grade level of comprehension.
  4. Present the ideas to the group. Listen to any objections and seek consensus. Repeat the entire process if needed, but understand that the person in charge will eventually make a decision that becomes department policy. At the very least, stress that each policy can be tested on a trial basis and looked at again in the future.


Word file

You can download a Microsoft Word "docx" file of this chapter here: Acme Corp Operations Manual Chapter 10 - Dangerous Goods.

Remember, this is your blank canvas to customize as you see fit.