Yes! Since 1st January 2019 you can now take your inflatable lifejacket on board the aircraft. Each passenger may carry a life jacket with a maximum of two (2) CO₂ cartridges and no more than two spare cartridges in their luggage. The size limits for CO₂ cartridges in life jackets that apply until the end of 2018 have been lifted. These changes were made in the “Dangerous Goods Panel” of ICAO, a sub-organization of the UNO, and incorporated into the ICAO T.I. 2019-2020 released regulations so they are valid worldwide. They were also included in the dangerous goods regulations of the IATA (DGR).
Legal provisions for the transport of CO₂ cartridges in commercial aircraft
Basically, the requirements for the transport of CO₂ cartridges are regulated by law in the European Regulation VO(EU) 965/2012 in conjunction with the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (ICAO T.I.). The ICAO T.I. are published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a sub-organization of the UN. In it they set the maximum levels for dangerous goods carried by passengers or crew members and should be followed by the airlines worldwide.
The lifejacket regulations and maximum levels are given in Table 8-1, Article 18 of the ICAO T.I. 2017-2018. For “self-inflating personal safety device such as a life-jacket or vest” apply from now on the following rules:
- A passenger may take an inflatable lifejacket
- in or as checked baggage.
- in or as carry-on/hand luggage.
- if carried on your own body.The captain/pilot does not need to be informed
- The approval of the operator(s) is required.
- no more than one personal safety device per person;
- the personal safety device must be packed in such a manner
that it cannot be accidentally activated;
- must be for inflation purposes;
- no more than two cartridges are fitted into the device; and
- no more than two spare cartridges.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a federation in which most airline companies are members. The specifications of the ICAO T.I. are also reflected in the IATA regulations for dangerous goods (DGR).
In the IATA DGR Regulations, the maximum quantity for passenger aircraft transport per person is set at one (1) inflatable lifejacket and two (2) CO₂ cartridges. This applies to checked baggage or carry-on baggage. The described volume limitation of 50 ml does not apply to lifejackets, but only to other devices. There is only talk of “small replacement cartridges”. However, the IATA regulations do not define small replacement cartridges. See the definition in Table 8-1, Article 18 of the ICAO T.I. 2017-2018.
New regulations for the 1st of January 2019
The ICAO has rearranged and clarified the new ICAO T.I. 2019-2020 regulations for passengers and crew members. The 50 ml volume limit (and consequently the 28g limit) for cartridges is therefore no longer applicable to inflatable lifejackets from 01.01.2019. From 2019 inflatable lifejackets can finally be transported by plane after registration.
The transport of inflatable lifejackets in worldwide passenger aviation is now much easier – certainly for the transport of an inflatable life jacket with CO₂ cartridges; however the approval of the operator is still required.
Responsibility of the airline and captain
Ultimately, it is up to each airline and finally each captain to decide whether he/she allows the passenger, as is their right. Depending on the current situation, for example, increased risk of terrorism, he can pronounce prohibitions as may the Federal Police as well.
What is the danger of an inflatable lifejacket?
Effectively, an inflatable lifejacket poses no threat to aircraft, crew or passengers, even from a 275N vest with a 60g CO₂ cartridge. Neither the CO₂ gas nor the size of the compressed gas cylinder are problematic. Even if it came to the very unlikely malfunctioning of an inflatable lifejacket, then the biggest problem would be that the suitcase bursts. Not more.
It should be noted that the ICAO T.I. even allows the carrying of avalanche backpacks, which contain a much larger compressed gas tank. In addition, these also contain a pyrotechnic trigger mechanism.
How should you proceed?
According to ICAO T.I. and IATA-DGR the regulations require the approval of the airline to carry lifejackets. In order to avoid as many stumbling points as possible in advance, you should contact the airline when booking the flight and point out the request to carry life jacket so this permission can be noted directly on the ticket so usually all discussions are dealt with before arriving at the airport. A reference to the entry on the ticket is sufficient. In individual cases, you will be asked to leave your suitcase at the bulky luggage counter so that it can be separately screened.
Our advice is that you always declare your inflatable lifejacket and CO₂ cartridges, hand in your luggage and not carry them as carry-on baggage. Put max. one additional replacement cartridge with and directly alongside the lifejacket so that they can be seen together if the bag is checked.
A carry-on is possible in most German airports such as Hamburg or Dusseldorf. However, especially in some foreign countries, the staff at the security check of the hand luggage are often poorly trained or informed and cannot discuss these new regulations. As a result, CO₂ cartridges are removed from the hand luggage frequently. Therefore, you always check your lifejacket as luggage.
- ICAO T.I. 2017-2018, Table 8-1: Provisions concerning dangerous goods carried by passengers or crew members (German)
- IATA DGR: Provisions for Dangerous Goods Carried by Passengers or Crew (Subsection 2.3)
- Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 of 5 October 2012 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to air operations pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council
- ICAO Guidance Document Doc 9284 – Infectious Substances. International Civil Aviation Organization Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Good by Air, 2005-2006
If you have any further questions, please contact us by phone or email. We will try to advise you in the best possible way in advance of your flight.
Tel.: +49 (4103) 125-0