Does the Recipient Have Any Hazmat Compliance Responsibilities?

Most aircraft parts distributors know that performing a “pre-transportation function” related to hazardous material (hazmat) shipping will subject them to a compliance requirement under the hazmat rules (and also under the internationally-accepted dangerous goods regulations).  As a consequence, they assume that mere receipt of a hazmat is not a regulated function under those same rules.  But this assumption misses the fact that distributors who receive hazmats may have some liabilities when the parts are imported from outside the United States.

Aircraft parts distributors generally know that that hazmat is an important topic for their shipping departments.  This is because (1) many aircraft parts are regulated as hazmats, and (2) the U.S. hazmat rules apply to persons who offer hazmat for transportation or cause a hazmat to be transported (obviously, the hazmat regulations apply also to those who transport hazmats but that is beyond the scope of the aircraft parts distribution community).

The hazmat regulations specify that when hazmats are impored in the United States, the importer is responsible for ensuring that the exporter (and each forwarding agent) has the compliance information it needs.

(a)    Importer’s responsibility. Except in the case of a shipment from Canada conforming to §171.12a of this subchapter, each person importing a hazardous material into the United States shall provide the shipper and the forwarding agent at the place of entry into the United States timely and complete information as to the requirements of this subchapter that will apply to the shipment of the material within the United States.

Let’s say that an aircraft parts distributor based in the United States purchases an engine from a non-US seller.  The engine is shipped from the non-US location to the US location at which the buyer does business.  The engine is regulated under UN Number 3166 for hazmat purposes.   In such a case, the US buyer has an obligation to provide to the shipper and to any forwarding agent “timely and complete information as to the requirements” of the hazmat regulations.

As a practical matter, if you are in the United States and you are purchasing or obtaining aircraft parts from a non-US source (importing them), then you should

1)      Ask your business partner whether any of the parts may be hazardous matgerials or dangerous goods, and

2)      If the import is a hazmat then communicate the regulatory obligations to your exporting-business-partner, and ensure that they are also communicated to any forwarding agent.

Need more answers about hazmat?  We will be conducting hazmat training for the aviation industry March 11-12 in California and April 24-25 in Florida.


About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Air Carrier Purchasing Conference, and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association. He also represents private clients drawn from the spectrum of the aviation industry.

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