CAVU Café: Royboy’s Prose & Cons

*Note: The views expressed in CAVU Café: Royboy’s Prose & Cons blog are those solely of the writer and are not necessarily shared by the Aviation Suppliers Association or the Association’s staff, members, or Board of Directors.

   About Roy Resto


Would you like me to gift-wrap this for you? We wish that packaging of aircraft parts was as easy as adding a satin bow and ribbons to make it look pretty. The fact is that proper packing and preparation for shipment of aircraft parts requires a degree of know-how, and in some cases knowledge of some fairly specialized processes or procedures. Consider some of these topics, applicable as required:

  • HAZMAT marking in accordance with applicable regulations.
  • Posting of certain documents on the outside to facilitate exporting/importing.
  • Marking contents (magnetized material, ESD, ‘This side up’, ‘Do not stack’ etc.)
  • Limitations on the type of wood (used in the construction of shipping pallets and containers/boxes) that is acceptable for exporting.
  • Requirements to put 2D or 3D bar coding on the outside of the package.
  • Requirements to affix RFID to the outside of the package.
  • Use-of shipper’s software, filling out, printing, and affixing of shipper’s labels (such as FedEx, UPS, etc.).
  • Specific requirements on the construction of the shipping container/package

That's a lot, and to get it right every time means you have a good crew in the shipping department, so don't forget to thank these unsung employees for their efforts.

In aviation there is a standard for just about everything, and there is no exception for packaging aircraft parts. My experience is that deliveries destined for Government or Defense customers tend to have the most burdensome requirements. Globally, for both the Civilian and Government/Defense markets, consider the following available standards:

  • ATA (Now A4A) Specification 300: Specification for Packaging of Airline Supplies.
  • MIL-STD-2073-1: Department Of Defense, Standard Practice For Military Packaging.
  • ASTM D-999 Standard Test Methods for Vibration Testing of Shipping Containers.
  • NOTE: Globally, there are numerous packaging standards, notably most are defense derived.

Why do I need the ATA Spec 300?

For all of you who are Accredited to the ASA-100, you are required to have this on-hand and available per the standard.  The first release of this specification went back to the 90's, when many airlines had the requirement in their T&C's to assure the parts purchased were packaged in accordance with the spec. Many firms today still state this T&C on their Purchase Orders. In fact it was not just the ASA-100 that required use of the spec. CASE and ATA Spec 106 also called for it.

Many are under the assumption that the spec exists only to designate how those hard-shelled shipping cases are designed, such as this well-worn example:

Note the ATA Spec 300 designation within the circle.

There are, according to ATA Spec 300, three categories of packaging:

  • Category I Reusable for a minimum of 100 round-trips
  • Category II Reusable for a minimum of 10 round-trips
  • Category III Usable for a minimum of 1 trip

 The picture above is of a Category I box. It's going to survive at least 100 round trips. Unless you're an engineer, you're unlikely to set about designing a Category I box. The Spec has all the engineering requirements for construction and testing of the box to assure conformity. There are firms that specialize in building these in case you're ever asked to provide these for your customer.  Needless to say, they're expensive, and are typically used to protect costly rotables. If you're a repair station and your customer sends you product in these, you had better send it back in the same box lest they charge for a replacement; trust me. Many repair stations don't account for these during the receiving process and subsequently ship the part back without it; you're going to hear about it.

In fact many of you are already, likely shipping parts in packaging that is Category III compliant, and you may not be aware of it.

Here's a picture of some category II packaging:

What else about the Spec 300?

  • It contains instructions on packaging ESD parts.
  • Hazmat packaging.
  • Instructions on interfacing with ATA Spec 2000, which many of you use to conduct business with.

By the way, regarding the use of ‘peanuts’ as interior cushioning, the spec states “Miscellaneous wadding such as newspaper or rags, and loose fill packing materials such as plastic 'chips' or 'peanuts' shall not be used as dunnage or cushioning material.”


ATA Spec 300, all 36 pages, may seem complicated in some aspects. If so, MIL-STD-2073-1 is a heavyweight at 208 pages. If you're consulting this Military Standard, it's only because you have been required to so by a government solicitation award contract. Some shippers of these parts find the Standard complicated and beyond their core skill sets. Because of this, there are firms that have specialties in packaging meant to meet the Standard. In some cases a government Inspector must inspect the parts and packaging before it's shipped to the government. These Inspectors typically represent the DCMA (Defense Contract Management Agency).  

Whereas ATA Spec 300 recognizes and defines the three aforementioned categories, the Mil-Std generally recognizes over 18, which are called ‘Methods’. For example:

Method 10 - Physical protection

Method 20 - Physical protection with preservative (with greaseproof wrap, as required)

Method 30 - Waterproof or waterproof-greaseproof protection with preservative

Method 31 - Waterproof bag, heat sealed

Method 32 - Container, waterproof bag, heat sealed

Method 33 - Greaseproof-waterproof bag, heat sealed

Method 40 - Water vaporproof protection with preservative as required

Method 41 - Water vaporproof bag, heat sealed

Method 42 - Container, water vaporproof bag, heat sealed, container

Method 43 - Floating water vaporproof bag, heat sealed

Method 44 - Rigid container (other than metal), sealed

Method 45 - Rigid metal container, sealed

Method 50 - Water vaporproof protection with desiccant

Method 51 - Water vaporproof bag with desiccant, heat sealed

Method 52 - Container, water vaporproof bag with desiccant, heat sealed, container

Method 53 - Floating watervaporproof bag with desiccant, heat sealed

Method 54 - Rigid container (other than metal) with desiccant, sealed

Method 55 - Rigid metal container with desiccant, sealed


And... as those cheesy $19.95 TV commercials always state: But wait! There's more! The standard includes references to these other nifty specifications:


QQ-A-1876 - Aluminum Foil.

PPP-B-1672 - Box, Shipping, Reusable with Cushioning.

A-A-3174 - Plastic Sheet, Polyolefin.

MIL-DTL-117 - Bags, Heat-Sealable.

MIL-PRF-121 - Barrier Materials, Greaseproof, Waterproof, Flexible, Heat-Sealable.

MIL-PRF-131 - Barrier Materials, Watervaporproof, Greaseproof, Flexible, Heat-Sealable.

MIL-PRF-3420 - Packaging Materials, Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor, Treated, Opaque.

MIL-D-3464 - Desiccants, Activated, Bagged, Packaging Use and Static Dehumidification.

MIL-DTL-6060 - Bags, Watervaporproof, Heat-Sealable, Complex.

MIL-I-8574 - Inhibitors, Corrosion, Volatile, Utilization of.

MIL-PRF-16173 - Corrosion Preventive Compound, Solvent Cutback, Cold-Application.

MIL-PRF-22019 - Barrier Materials, Transparent, Flexible, Sealable, Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor Treated.

MIL-DTL-22020 - Bags, Transparent, Flexible, Sealable, Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor Treated.

MIL-PRF-22191 - Barrier Materials, Transparent, Flexible, Heat-Sealable.

MIL-PRF-81705 - Barrier Materials, Flexible, Electrostatic Protective, Heat-Sealable.

MIL-STD-129 - Military Marking for Shipment and Storage.

MIL-STD-3010 - Test Procedures for Packaging Materials.

MS20003 - Indicator, Humidity, Card, Three Spot, Impregnated Areas (Cobaltous Chloride).


Hmm…that $600 hammer (of dubious fake news fame) has to be packaged in MIL-STD-2073-1 compliant material, I’m sure…


Over ‘n out


Roy ‘Royboy’ Resto

Posted By Roy Resto | 2/1/2017 10:19:33 AM

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