Many dangerous goods shippers in the United States are finding themselves using new software to complete their IATA shipper’s declaration for air shipments. A new operator variation for Federal Express (FX-18) requires shipper’s declarations be completed using an approved error checking software.
Most of these programs have rules built in to them that force the user to complete specific areas of the declaration with limited options, sometimes based on previous choices. the options given will always be ones that are authorized by the regulations, but the user must still consider their specific product when making choices. Just because the regulations (and software) allow something, doesn’t make it the best choice.
For example, when shipping hydrochloric acid, PG III on cargo aircraft, you must use IATA packing instruction 856. The packing instruction allows the use of metal single packagings. An error checking software will allow a declaration to show metal drums, but it will not, in most cases, alert the shipper that the metal drum must be corrosion resistant, as specified in the packing instruction.
If you find yourself using a new software system to complete your declarations, make sure you know the limitations of the program and make sure that you understand how to use the regulations. Error checking is not the same thing as fully automated!