Understanding the Legal Requirements of Air Cargo Trucking and Recovery

February 9, 2023
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At any given moment, the skies are full of planes carrying air cargo shipments worldwide. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in an average 24-hour span, 100,000 planes take off globally with air cargo shipments, carrying 20 million parcels valued at $18.6 billion. Those numbers account for over 35% of global trade by volume. With all that cargo on the move daily around the world, it is paramount to ensure air cargo truckers follow all legal requirements when recovering shipments and delivering them to their proper destination in time. Air logistics professionals face numerous challenges in the race to deliver to customers on time, such as labor shortages at hubs, fast-paced workplaces that lead to mistakes, and inefficient manual processes such as outdated communication. 

Faced with these myriad challenges, logistics professionals operating air cargo trucking and recovery operations must fully understand all legal requirements to do their job efficiently. This article will explain the four different types of legal requirements of air cargo trucking and how Carrier 911 prioritizes the urgency of air cargo trucking to provide expedited recovery of shipments and ensure deliveries are made on time while complying with all necessary regulations.

Four Legal Requirements of Air Cargo Trucking

Companies and individuals must follow four main legal requirements in addition to all their other tasks in air cargo trucking and recovery. Not only is proper registration needed before beginning the job, but new, updated guidelines are constantly being enforced that must be monitored. Employees must stay up to date on licensing, insurance, regulatory compliance, and safety standards to meet all regulations and be able to do their job legally. Here’s what is needed to make sure they are prepared to do their job:

Licensing Requirements of Air Cargo Trucking

Truck drivers must already have a valid commercial driver’s license, meet medical certification requirements, pass a criminal background check, have a clean driving record, and pass a drug test before getting behind the wheel for a company. But there are additional steps to ensuring airfreight truckers are caught up legally. While drivers don’t need a federal license to perform their jobs, training with IATA is still required. Completing training with IATA benefits workers by providing streamlined access to airports and other processes for air cargo trucking. Receiving instruction from IATA gives workers accreditation and allows them to access different training options to make doing business smoother. Completed training with IATA means that airlines will recognize workers as part of the worldwide distribution network of airfreight forwarders.

Beyond IATA requirements, more documentation is still needed for truckers before they hit the road. Here are three licenses they’ll need: 

  • USDOT Licensing: Drivers for companies that transport passengers in commercial vehicles or haul cargo on interstates must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and have a US Department of Transportation number. They’ll also need a USDOT number if they haul hazardous materials that require safety permits. The number is used to collect and monitor companies’ safety information during compliance reviews, crash investigations, and inspections.
  • Operating Authority (MC number): In addition to the USDOT number, drivers that operate as for-hire carriers, transport passengers in interstate commerce, or transport federally-regulated goods must also apply for an MC number.
  • Freight Forwarder Registration: Anyone who acts as an intermediary in freight forwarding in interstate or foreign commerce must register with the FMCSA and adhere to all its regulations.

Insurance Requirements of Airfreight Trucking

Drivers have 90 days to obtain insurance once they are licensed and registered with the FMCSA. To receive approval from the FMCSA, airfreight truckers must submit these forms to confirm they are insured against accidents or a loss of cargo:

  • BMC-34 or BMC-83: This form is for liability insurance for a minimum of $5,000 motor carrier insurance per vehicle and $10,000 per occurrence. A safety report also must be completed every time an accident occurs.
  • BMC-91 and BMC-91X: BMC-91 is a motor carrier form that must be completed annually to prove drivers have enough liability insurance to carry people or goods over state lines. BMC-91x is for when multiple insurance companies are involved rather than only one.

Regulatory Compliance for Airfreight Trucking Companies

Airfreight truckers must stay up-to-date on IATA guidelines for handling dangerous goods.

IATA defines hazardous materials as “articles or substances which are capable of posing a hazard to health, safety, property or the environment and which are shown in the list of dangerous goods in IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations or which are classified according to those regulations.” These materials may include aerosols, lithium batteries, fireworks, gasoline-powered machinery, and paint. IATA guidelines are updated every two years. As important as learning about these guidelines is, it’s not a complicated process for truckers. The training is accessible to everyone via courses and yearly manuals, so drivers always know the most updated rules and regulations. The manual outlines its rules in an easy-to-read fashion.

Air cargo trucking employees must also follow regulations from USDOT, which regularly revamps its codes. Any truckers working in interstate commerce – which involves crossing state boundaries – must comply with federal safety regulations and operating authority rules, and state and local requirements. A USDOT number is required for this type of work if you have vehicles that are over 10,000 pounds, transport more than nine passengers, or haul hazardous materials in interstate commerce.

Safety Requirements of Air Cargo Trucking

Air cargo trucking employees must prioritize safety and follow the rules of the road to keep their job. But that’s just the beginning. Truckers must also attain a proper class of license for their vehicle and an MC number; they must have registered with the FMCSA and possess appropriate insurance and a surety bond. A surety bond is a three-party contract in which the surety party ensures that the third party receives adequate payment if the second party doesn’t meet the terms of their obligations.

Truckers are also required to perform — and keep records of — vehicle maintenance, with daily inspections a must. Commercial motor vehicles must be operated in a way that doesn’t cause accidents or lead to possible vehicle breakdowns. Among other maintenance tasks, vehicle accessories must be in safe and proper condition at all times, and emergency door lights must be inspected at least once every 90 days. If the driver receives a roadside inspection report, they must sign the report within 15 days to certify that all violations are corrected.

There also is a limit on the hours of service (HOS) that drivers may be on duty. Drivers must follow regulations to ensure they are afforded proper time to rest and recharge. This can vary between passenger-carrying drives and property-carrying drivers and includes limits on how many consecutive hours they can drive, how many hours they may go in a day, how often at least a 30-minute break is needed, and how much extra time they are allowed to be on the road if facing adverse conditions. These rules are often updated as the FMCSA tries to find more flexibility for drivers without compromising the safety of all parties involved.

In an Emergency, Choose Airfreight Trucking From Carrier 911

Air cargo trucking is an important, intense job for drivers and other logistics professionals, even without factoring in the four legal requirements they should be constantly aware of. But by keeping up to date on the latest licensing, insurance, regulatory compliance, and safety guidelines, companies ensure that only the best and safest employees perform expedited airfreight recovery services. Policies and regulations are constantly changing to make conditions safer for everyone involved, so companies must know what is expected of them and their employees to meet these requirements in a rapidly-changing world.

Carrier 911 goes the extra mile when following legal regulations while providing shippers with a wide range of freight recovery and transportation services at any container freight station in the United States or Canada. Working with Turvo, it offers real-time visibility into each shipment, monitoring shipments from the beginning of the process to the very last step. Carrier 911’s capacity can handle the busiest times of the year, when those 20 million parcels of air cargo per day increase even more substantially, such as during the recent Chinese New Year or the upcoming Valentine’s Day rush. Contact Carrier 911 to see how its urgency in air cargo recovery ensures your deliveries are completed when time is of the essence.

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