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DGCA issues guidelines to airlines for transportation of COVID-19 vaccines in dry ice packaging

The regulator said the aircraft operator should prepare a ‘Dos and Don'ts’ guidance and circulate it among personnel who would be handling the vaccines

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The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued guidelines to all aircraft operators who plan to transport COVID-19 vaccines packed in dry ice to various parts of the country, outlining the necessary safety precautions and modalities.

If vaccines packed in dry ice are being transported in the passenger cabin of an aircraft, then the flight crew should be properly trained on the hazards and risks of its transportation, it noted.

Dry ice transforms into carbon dioxide gas at temperatures higher than minus 78 degrees Celsius under normal atmospheric pressure and, therefore, it is classified as “dangerous goods” by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), it said.

The DGCA said, “Adequate number of carbon dioxide detectors should be available in the cabin. Such detectors should be located at locations for timely and reliable detection of a dangerous concentration of carbon dioxide.”

“All operators while engaging in the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines packed with dry ice shall establish the maximum quantity of dry ice that can be loaded in a given cargo hold or in the main deck (passenger cabin) when a passenger version is deployed for all-cargo operations,” it said.

If the aircraft operator is taking more dry ice in cargo hold than what is specified in the aircraft manufacturer’s manual, it needs to perform a risk assessment covering points such as potential pressure build-up if gas is released from the package, analysis of ambient temperatures on the ground, etc.

(Edits by EP News Bureau)

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