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Transportation of Hazardous Materials


Table of Contents

Importance to Members


Technical Information

Additional Resources


Table of Contents

Importance to Members

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Title 49 CFR, governs and is the regulatory authority for the transportation of all hazardous materials in commerce, on public highways and waterways and in the airspace of the United States. This includes the regulatory guidance of transportation of such materials by private aircraft, air taxi/charter, and airline passengers and all cargo operations under FAR Parts 91, 121, and 135.

The transportation of any defined hazardous material by private general aviation aircraft, while not totally prohibited (note that many materials are, in fact, prohibited), does carry certain risks and should not be considered, unless absolutely necessary.

Quick Points

  • Gasoline – Aviation and auto fuel may be transported by air in certain quantities and containers.
  • Ammunition – Small-arms ammunition for personal use carried by a crewmember or passenger in his/her baggage is permitted if securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes, or other packagings specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
  • Fireworks – Are prohibited from being transported by air as they are classed as explosives and pyrotechnic devices.

As always, feel free to call AOPA's Pilot Information Center at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672) with questions.


FAR Parts 121 and 135 have specific training requirements for crews to complete before carrying hazardous materials, and crews must maintain this training annually as long as they transport the materials. Part 91 operators are not required to be trained and certified under the 49 CFR regulations; however, the transportation of hazardous materials in general aviation aircraft is confined to excepted and limited quantities of materials approved and permitted to be shipped by air.

Technical Information


Here are some specific defined terms from the 49 CFR regulations:

  • Person - means an individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, joint stock company; or a government, Indian tribe, or authority of a government or tribe offering a hazardous material for transportation in commerce or transporting a hazardous material to support a commercial enterprise.
  • Limited quantity - when specified as such in a section applicable to a particular material means the maximum amount of a hazardous material for which there is a specific labeling or packaging exception.
  • Hazardous material - as defined by the secretary of Transportation, which has determined is capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce, and has designated as hazardous under section 5103 of federal hazardous materials transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5103). The term includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, and elevated temperature materials.
  • Hazardous substance - for the purposes of this subchapter, means a material, including its mixtures and solutions, that—
    • Is listed in the appendix A to Sec. 172.101 of this subchapter;
    • Is in a quantity, in one package, which equals or exceeds the reportable quantity (RQ) listed in the appendix A to Sec. 172.101 of this subchapter; and
    • When in a mixture or solution—
      • For radio nuclides, conforms to paragraph 7 of the appendix A to Sec. 172.101.
      • For other than radio nuclides, is in a concentration by weight which equals or exceeds the concentration corresponding to the RQ of the material, as shown in the following table:

Common Hazardous Materials

The  Part 172.101 Hazardous Materials Table defines product names, descriptions, classification, and quantities permitted. The following is a list of common hazardous materials that are likely to be transported by private aircraft.

  • Gasoline
  • Firearms
  • Compressed Gas Cylinders
  • Aerosol spray containers
  • Paint
  • Small propane tanks for camping stoves
  • Solid fuel containers used in camping/cooking
  • Cleaning solvents/solutions
  • Petroleum oils
  • Alcohol and various solutions
  • Batteries
  • Carbon dioxide/dry ice
  • Pesticides/insecticides
  • Survival Equipment


There are nine classes and sub-classes of defined hazardous materials. The classes are:






Explosive 1.1[1]


Explosive 1.2[1]


Explosive 1.3[1]


Explosive 1.4[1]


Explosive 1.5[1]


Explosive 1.6[1]


Flammable Gas


Non-Flammable Gas


Poison Gas


Flammable Liquid


Flammable Solid


Spontaneously Combustible


Dangerous When Wet




Organic Peroxide

6.1- inhalation hazard

Poison Inhalation Hazard

6.1- other than inhalation hazard



Infectious Substance






Class 9


Part 175 – Carriage by Aircraft

The regulations concerning transportation of hazardous materials specifically by any aircraft are found in  49 CFR Part 175. The table of contents is reproduced below to give an outline of what is contained in that part. The information displayed is not a complete listing of the regulations, but instead a list of points thought by the AOPA to be important for General Aviation.

Sec. 175.5 Applicability

This part applies to the acceptance for transportation, loading and transportation of hazardous materials in any aircraft in the United States and in aircraft of United States registry anywhere in air commerce.

Sec. 175.10 Exceptions

This subchapter does not apply to:

  • Aviation fuel and oil in tanks that are in compliance with the installation provisions of 14 CFR, chapter 1.
  • Hazardous materials required aboard an aircraft in accordance with the applicable airworthiness requirements and operating regulations. Unless otherwise approved by the Associate Administrator, items of replacement for such hazardous materials must be transported in accordance with this subchapter except that—
    • In place of the required packaging, packaging’s specially designed for the transport of aircraft spares and supplies may be used, provided such packaging provide at least an equivalent level of protection to those that would be required by this subchapter;
    • Aircraft batteries are not subject to quantity limitations such as those provided in Sec. 172.101 or Sec. 175.75(a) of this subchapter
  • The following hazardous materials when carried by a passenger or crew member for personal use in conformance with the following conditions:
    • Non-radioactive medicinal and toilet articles (including aerosols) may be carried in checked or carry-on baggage;
    • One self-defense spray (see Sec. 171.8 of this subchapter), not exceeding 118 mL(4 fluid ounces) by volume, that incorporates a positive means to prevent accidental discharge may be carried in checked baggage only;
    • Other aerosols in Division 2.2 with no subsidiary risk may be carried in checked baggage only; and
    • The aggregate quantity of hazardous materials carried by the person may not exceed 2 kg (70 ounces) by mass or 2 L (68 fluid ounces) by volume and the capacity of each container may not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) by mass or 470 mL (16 fluid ounces) by volume.
    • The provisions of this paragraph (a)(4) also apply to an aircraft operator when transporting passenger or crew member baggage to its intended destination, if the baggage has been separated from the passenger or crew member, including transfer to another carrier for transport to its intended destination.
  • Small-arms ammunition for personal use carried by a crewmember or passenger in his baggage (excluding carry-on baggage) if securely packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes, or other packagings specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition. This paragraph does not apply to persons traveling under the provisions of 49 CFR 1544.219.
  • Oxygen, or any hazardous material used for the generation of oxygen, for medical use by a passenger, which is furnished by the aircraft operator in accordance with 14 CFR 121.574 or 135.91. For purposes of this paragraph, an aircraft operator that is not a certificate holder under 14 CFR part 121 or part 135, may apply this exception in conformance with 14 CFR 121.574 or 135.91 in the same manner as required for a certificate holder.
  • Human beings and animals with an implanted medical device, such as a heart pacemaker, that contains Class 7 (radioactive) materials or with radio-pharmaceuticals that have been injected or ingested.
  • Smoke grenades, flares, or similar devices carried only for use during a sport parachute jumping activity.
  • Safety matches or a lighter intended for use by an individual when carried on one's person. However, lighters containing unabsorbed liquid fuel (other than liquefied gas), lighter fuel, and lighter refills are not permitted on one's person or in checked or carry-on baggage.
  • Smoke grenades, flares, and pyrotechnic devices affixed to aircraft
  • Carbon dioxide, solid (dry ice) when:
    • In quantities not exceeding 2.3 kg (5.07 pounds) per package packed as prescribed by Sec. 173.217 of this subchapter and used as a refrigerant for the contents of the package. The package must be marked with the name of the contents being cooled, the net weight of the dry ice or an indication that the net weight is 2.3 kg (5.07 pounds) or less, and also marked "Carbon Dioxide, Solid" or "Dry Ice";
    • Intended for use in food and beverage service aboard aircraft; or
    • In quantities not exceeding 2 kg (4.4 pounds) per passenger when used to pack perishables in carry-on baggage provided the package permits the release of carbon dioxide gas.

Sec. 175.75 Quantity Limitations aboard Aircraft

  • Except as provided in Sec. 175.85(c)(3), no person may carry on an aircraft:
    • A hazardous material except as permitted by this subchapter;
    • More than 25 kg (55 pounds) net weight of hazardous material (and in addition thereto, 75 kg (165 pounds) net weight of Division 2.2 (non-flammable compressed gas) materials permitted to be carried aboard passenger-carrying aircraft:
      • In an inaccessible cargo compartment,
      • In any freight container within an accessible cargo compartment, or
      • In any accessible cargo compartment in a cargo aircraft only in a manner that makes it inaccessible unless in a freight container;
    • Packages containing Class 7 (radioactive) materials when their combined transport index number (determined by adding together the transport index numbers shown on the labels of the individual packages and/or overpacks):
      • In passenger carrying aircraft, exceeds 50.0 or, for any single package, exceeds 3.0, or
      • In cargo aircraft only, exceeds 200.00 (for fissile Class 7 (radioactive) materials, see Sec. 175.702(b)(2)(iv)) or, for any single package, exceeds 10.0.
  • No limitation applies to the number of packages of Class 9 (miscellaneous hazardous) materials, or ORM-D materials aboard an aircraft.

Even though a private or general aviation business aircraft operating under Part 91 is, in fact, a private aircraft, the movement of this aircraft at public use airports, parking at public FBOs, and flying in the national airspace system, exposes the general public to the dangers of these materials. Fire fighters, rescue personnel, and others are at unnecessary risk when hazardous materials are transported and in aircraft not in compliance with the regulations. In the event of any aircraft incident or accident, there can be serious dangers to aircraft, crew, passengers and the general public. Therefore, compliance with the regulations is required.

Note: For non-pressurized general aviation aircraft flying at 9,000 feet msl, the pressure inside a plastic bottle/container or aerosol will be greater than at sea level. Therefore the possibility of an in-flight accident is greater. Please be guided accordingly, and do not transport excessive quantities beyond what the regulation allows.

Packaging of Hazardous Materials

Hazardous TeamUnless the mandatory training required by  49 CFR 172.704 for packaging hazardous material has been received, do not attempt to pack any hazardous material for transport by aircraft. This includes, but is not limited to, forwarding any hazardous material by United Parcel Service air or ground or FedEx by air or ground transportation. Use an approved hazardous material packaging firm.

Mandatory training requirements for Part 135 certificate holders are listed in Subpart K of 135.501, 503, 505, and 507, and mandatory training requirements for Part 121 certificate holders are listed in Subpart Z of  121.1001, 1003, 1005, and 1007.

Additional Resources

Businesses Providing Hazmat Packaging

The businesses listed below may be contacted for assistance required to obtain special packing boxes or containers for any class of hazardous materials or to have any material classified as hazardous packaged on your behalf.