In DOT HazMat, HazMat

Table of Contents

  1. What Is IATA?
  2. What’s the Purpose of IATA?
  3. What’s an IATA Code?
  4. The IATA Operational Safety Audit and Airline Safety
  5. IATA and Dangerous Goods

When working in the management of dangerous materials in regards to air transportation, one of the authorities you’ll commonly encounter is IATA. This organization plays a significant role in the commercial air transport industry. In this article, we’ll answer some of the key questions about IATA, including what does IATA do, what do IATA codes mean and how does IATA relate to the transport of dangerous goods.

What Is IATA?

IATA is an acronym for the International Air Transport Association. Founded in April of 1945 in Havana, Cuba, IATA is an organization that works to improve the safety, processes and economic value of air transport services. Since its founding, the air transport industry has grown 100 times over, and IATA membership has grown from 57 members at its founding to 290 members as of 2018. In total, IATA represents the majority of the aviation industry today, covering 82% of all global air traffic.

What’s the Purpose of IATA?

The primary function of IATA is to provide high-quality and efficient services for both airline companies and their passengers. They accomplish this through a dedicated focus in three key areas:

1. Safety

Safety is the number one priority of IATA, and they work to ensure flying remains one of the safest activities in the world. To achieve this objective, the IATA sets standards and best practices for airlines operating under their observation. This includes the implementation and execution of the Six Point Safety Strategy, which focuses on the following six areas:

  • Reducing operational risk
  • Enhancing quality and compliance
  • Advocating for improved infrastructure in aviation
  • Supporting the consistent implementation of safety management systems
  • Supporting effective recruitment and training
  • Identifying and addressing emerging safety concerns

A key part of this is the IOSA program and proper management of dangerous goods.

2. Simplification and Enhancement

The IATA also works to simplify and enhance airline functionality, experiences and security across all areas of the industry. This includes simplifying and enhancing the following areas:

  • Operations and infrastructure: IATA works to identify and develop operational solutions for aircraft and airlines in flight and on the ground to support the growth of airline infrastructures. This includes optimizing engineering, maintenance, monitoring and ground operations and reducing safety hazards.
  • Security: Security under IATA focuses on partnership and communication with governments to develop measures that appropriately prepare for current security trends and concerns.
  • Passenger experience: Passenger experience is an evolving need, and IATA is focused on creating secure and efficient passenger experiences. To achieve this goal, IATA continuously analyzes and sets new standards to support the growing industry.
  • Distribution and payment: The distribution and payment section of the airline industry is rapidly changing, with IATA working to simplify and enhance customer shopping and purchasing experiences to meet consumer demands.

3. Environment


IATA and its members are committed to the environment and combating climate change through operational enhancement. This includes continuous efforts in the following areas:

  • Reducing emissions: IATA has committed to halving its CO2 emissions by 2050, and works consistently toward this goal by analyzing operations to identify carbon reduction opportunities.
  • Wildlife conservation: IATA is dedicated to combating the use of air transport toillegally traffic plants and animals worldwide by providing intelligence to enforcement and wildlife agencies.
  • Improving noise and air quality: IATA works with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to set and ensure standards to minimize the impact of the aviation industry on local noise and air quality.
  • Waste management: IATA promotes simplified waste regulations and technical solutions to properly manage cabin waste and reduce the environmental footprint of the aviation industry.

What’s an IATA Code?

IATA codes are used for communication purposes and are assigned to airlines, airports and other essential travel hubs across the globe. There are three codes you may see, which are explained here:

  • Two-letter IATA codes: Two-letter codes consist of two characters, either two letters or a number and a letter. These IATA codes are used to indicate airlines.
  • Three-letter IATA codes: Three-letter codes are assigned to destinations across the globe by IATA. These codes, as the name suggests, consist of three letters based on the name of the transport facility or the city in which it operates. These codes are commonly applied to airports, but they are also used for key train and bus stations.
  • Four-letter ICAO codes: You may also encounter four-letter codes in airports that support non-commercial airlines. These are ICAO codes, which are used to categorize airports, heliports, airlines and aircraft that are not used for commercial flights.

The key purpose of both IATA and ICAO codes is to simplify identification and communication. Codes are used on documents and in communication systems to quickly communicate the airline and destination for specific flights. These codes are used on everything from flight tickets to airline shipping labels, so they are essential to understand for anyone working in air transport.

The IATA Operational Safety Audit and Airline Safety

One of IATA’s primary focuses is on airline safety. To support this focus, IATA developed the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) Program. As an evaluation system, the IOSA program sets international standards for airline control systems and operational management and uses those standards for assessment. All members of IATA need to be registered under the IOSA program to maintain their membership.

The IOSA program has seen massive success among both IATA members and non-member airlines — in fact, 32% of IOSA-registered airlines are not IATA members. The reason for this expansive adoption of the IOSA program is due to the range of benefits it offers to airlines and regulators. These benefits include:

  • Audit quality: The program presents a unified and high-quality audit program with a structured methodology that represents international standards.
  • Continuous updates: IATA continuously updates the standards under IOSA to match the most current industry best practices and regulatory revisions.
  • Eliminated redundancy: Implementing the IOSA program has saved the industry over 6,400 redundant audits, reducing the cost of audits across the industry.

The IOSA program specifically looks at operational safety measures and how well they are implemented throughout the airline industry. Because of this, it is essential for airline workers, especially those working with hazardous materials, to be aware of IOSA requirements.

IATA and Dangerous Goods

Some items handled in air transportation may endanger the safety of an aircraft and its passengers. These items fall under the category of “dangerous goods,” and must be handled accordingly. IATA works closely with ICAO and local governments to develop regulations that promote the effective and efficient transportation of these goods.

One of the key resources from the IATA relating to dangerous goods is the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) manual, which is a reference for shipping dangerous goods by air and is the only standard recognized by airlines. The DGR manual outlines the following:

  • Applicability: This includes the responsibilities of shippers and operators, required training and security, and incident reporting protocols.
  • Limitations: This includes forbidden and hidden goods, limits to storage and transport quantities and limits to transport methods and involved personnel.
  • Classification: This defines the types of dangerous goods, including explosives, gases, radioactive materials, oxidizing and corrosive materials and multiple hazard materials.
  • Packing instructions: This defines the packaging requirements for each type of hazardous material, along with application-specific requirements.
  • Documentation: This section defines documentation requirements for dangerous goods, including shipper’s declarations and air waybills.
  • Handling: This covers all the handling requirements for dangerous goods, including storage, loading, inspection, reporting, training and document provision and retention.

The DGR is closely related to the ICAO Technical Instructions, which also cover the handling of dangerous goods.

Choose Hazmat School for Training

IATA plays a significant role throughout the air travel industry, including the shipment of hazardous materials. If you are looking for Department of Transportation (DOT) and IATA training to ensure your employees are knowledgeable of applicable regulations, Hazmat School has the courses to help.

We offer DOT HAZMAT training programs that teach employees how to properly handle, store, transport and dispose of hazardous materials as well as programs for specific industries and sectors. Our specialized programs include on-site and off-site DOT and IATA certification classes that train your employees in all the regulations that apply to air shipping. With a curriculum that focuses on real-world applications, our courses are designed for maximum results and increased proficiency.

Contact Hazmat School today to learn more about our courses and services.

Choose Hazmat School for Training

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