Dangerous goods - Carriage and use of self heating meals on aircraft
Carriage and use of self heating meals on aircraft
CASA urges airlines to exercise caution with passengers carrying self heating meals, known as Meals-Ready-To-Eat (MRE), that use a Flameless Ration Heater (FRH).
The 2008 edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations states that Meals - Ready to Eat must not be used on an aircraft at any time. Airlines should be aware that passengers may be carrying these items in checked or carry-on baggage. Some passengers may intend to use the meals in flight.
What are "Meals-Ready-to-Eat" or self heating meals
Originally used by the military as rations for troops to provide warm food and move away from the use of stoves and fire, these meals include a flameless ration heater. They are gaining in popularity with civilians, particularly amongst hikers, survival enthusiasts and campers.
Why are self heating meals potentially dangerous
The concept of Meals-Ready-To-Eat lies in the creation of a chemical reaction to generate sufficient heat to cook a pre-prepared meal. This chemical reaction takes place in a Flameless Ration Heater (FRH), a bag containing iron, magnesium and sodium. The chemical reaction is activated by adding water, and the pack heats up in approximately 12 minutes. It can then be placed next to the MRE required to be heated.
Some of the FRH/MRE's involve dangerous goods with by-products that are hazardous in an aviation environment; whilst others are substantially self-contained and could be considered as not being dangerous.
There is little guidance at present to assist airline staff in distinguishing an aviation-dangerous FRH from a non-dangerous one.
CASA's current stance on MREs and FRHs
CASA is actively working with other leading aviation regulatory authorities to develop a consistent international regulation on passengers carrying these items.
In the interim, airlines and airport security-screening agencies are encouraged to develop their own safety-related policies with respect to MRE and FRH.
At this stage, passengers are discouraged from taking MREs and FRHs on aircraft.
Section 23 of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 states that an aircraft must not carry dangerous goods except in accordance with the Regulations. The Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, in particular Part 92.030, provides for the Provisions For Dangerous Goods Carried By Passenger And Crew (as reflected in ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods, Part 8 Chapter 1).
Although Meals- Ready-To-Eat are not listed in ICAO Part 8 Chapter 1 nor CASR Part 92.030, if the constituent components of an FRH fall within the classification of dangerous goods and if carried by a passenger on an aircraft, this would be considered a breach of the Civil Aviation legislation by the carrying airline and passenger.
This will be the case unless ICAO permits the carriage of these items by passengers and/or crew through Part 8 Chapter 1.
If you were planning to carry a self heating meal when flying, please contact the airline you intend to fly with for more information.
Operators and Security Screening Agencies
Please contact CASA's Dangerous Goods Inspectors on 131757.