Exemptions allowing third country operators (TCOs) transportation of cargo in passenger compartments

Following the disruptions caused by COVID-19 to the transportation of goods, some operators have been granted exemptions issued by their competent authorities allowing for the transportation of cargo in the passenger cabin of large aeroplanes. Based on the issued exemptions and a review of the related documentation, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has posed no objection to this kind of operations in an effort to support the transport of medical supplies and other important goods as efficiently as possible.

EASA will continue to pose no objection to such operations provided that adequate mitigation actions have been put in place and the alleviation/exemption follows the below limitations:

  • Transport products such as medical supplies, PPE as well as other cargo which is vital and essential for the functioning of sensitive supply chains affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Carriage of dangerous goods in the passenger cabin is not authorised, with the exception of vaccines cooled by dry ice.
  • Carriage of mix passengers and cargo in the cabin at the same time is not authorised

Targeted ramp inspections will be conducted by EASA and EASA MS NAAs to check the proper implementation of the above limitations TCOs flying to, from or within EASA Member States. 

The transportation of cargo in the passenger cabin of large aeroplanes beyond already approved stowage areas is usually not covered by the approval of the aircraft. In addition, the main manufacturers, in cooperation with the certification authorities have now come out with viable safety solutions and eventual modifications to mitigate the risks introduced by this situation. In case TCOs are considering the transport of any other goods they should ensure full compliance with such certification standards and implement any necessary design changes. Provided there is evidence that an application for a major change or STC has been made to the design authority, EASA will allow the operations to continue for the time necessary to complete the technical investigations for the associated design change approval and subsequent installation.

Exceptions to these rules will only be considered on a case-by-case basis and will be evaluated on the urgency of the COVID-19 related needs, the inexistence of any other means of transportation and the intended operation.

Additional information and guidance:

Should you need further clarifications, please contact TCO [at] easa.europa.eu.