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  • Ground Operations
12 June 2024

What are the New and Updated Standards in the Airport Handling Manual 45?

Global standards are the foundation for safe and efficient ground operations and standardization in training will ensure the same high levels of skills and knowledge at a global scale, reduce training time, costs and the global adoption of best practices.

The IATA Airport Handling Manual (AHM) is published annually to stay up to date with the industry trends as well as best practices. The new and updated standards come into effect January 1, 2025, and the 45th edition contains a significant number of changes. By purchasing your copy early, you will have the advantage of familiarizing yourself with the new standards and implementing them ahead of schedule. This proactive approach will not only ensure a seamless transition, but also demonstrate your commitment to maintaining the highest levels of operational excellence.

Passenger Handling (Chapter 1): Recommended Practices for Contactless Travel and Digitalisation of Admissibility


This section AHM115 introduces contactless travel, enabling passengers to verify their identity using biometric data, ensuring privacy and data protection. It eliminates the need for physical document presentation at multiple identity checkpoints. Through digital admissibility, passengers can secure all required authorizations from governments in advance, proving their travel eligibility to airlines without revealing excess personal information.

Introducing New Sections on AHM119: Travel Document Check


In today’s interconnected travel industry, upholding regulations and verifying travel documents play a critical role. As the world becomes increasingly dynamic, governments, airlines, and other stakeholders are focused on establishing robust systems to ensure travel security and integrity. This meticulous process involves thorough checks of passenger travel documents, supporting safety, smooth operations, and adherence to international standards.

New Standards and Best Practices on AHM122: Handling Unruly Passengers


According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an unruly or disruptive passenger is one who fails to adhere to conduct rules at airports or on board an aircraft, disregarding instructions from ground personnel or crew members and disrupting order. The aviation industry faces growing concerns about the rising frequency and severity of such incidents. Ground handling staff encounter more frequent and severe cases of unruly behaviour during interactions at the different touch points at an airport. Their proactive role in preventing and managing these incidents before departure is crucial to maintaining safety and avoiding in-flight disruptions.

Revision of Cargo and Mail Handling (Chapter 3)


The updated 45th edition of the AHM introduces several key changes to enhance cargo operations. AHM 310 now aligns with the Preloading Advance Cargo Information Manual (PLACI), expanding its scope to include sustainability considerations. AHM 322 has been revised to update the types of shipments considered wet cargo. AHM 330 incorporates the IATA label for Time and Temperature Sensitive Healthcare Products, ensuring critical shipments are handled with care.

AHM 332 outlines a new policy for the handling of live animals, mandating compliance with IATA Live Animals Regulations (LAR), specifically for providing an acceptance checklist developed by the Live Animals and Perishables Board (LAPB) for animal transport in-cabin, effective since January 1, 2022.

Newly introduced, AHM 361 sets forth Mail Safety Guidelines, emphasizing training and secure supply chain processes, while AHM 370 focuses on Interactive Cargo, advocating for the use of IoT devices for supply chain visibility. This includes standardizing the approval process for electronic monitoring devices on aircraft and integrating data elements into the ONE Record Data Model.

Lastly, AHM 371 offers Operational Guidance for the transport of engines, recommending safe practices for special load handling and build-up, particularly aircraft engines. Policies for the Notification to Captain (NOTOC) previously in chapter 3 (AHM 381 – 384) have been relocated to chapter 5 (AHM 593 – 596), streamlining the documentation process.

Amendments to Aircraft Handling and Loading (Chapter 4) and Load Control (Chapter 5)


AHM 440 now provides detailed guidance on potable water servicing, specifying the positioning of drinking water service vehicles relative to toilet trucks, and aligns training standards with AHM 1110. Chapter 5, focusing on Load Control, introduces new visuals and examples across several sections: AHM 501 enriches its Terms and Definitions; AHM 505 updates the designation of aircraft storage areas; AHM 513 revises Aircraft Structural Loading Limitations; and AHM 561 outlines a new approval process for Departure Control Systems (DCS) and data, ensuring streamlined and standardized procedures.

Updated Guidance on Management and Safety (Chapter 6)


The updates to the 45th edition of the AHM bring alignment with ICAO and the ISAGO program, including some of the key changes:

  • AHM 601 - Management and Control: This section now adheres to ISAGO standards, ensuring efficient management practices.
  • AHM 616 - Human Factors Program: It aligns with ISAGO guidelines, emphasizing human factors in ground operations.
  • AHM 617 - Occupational Health and Safety (OHS): The OHS policies now reflect ISAGO requirements, prioritizing safety, and well-being.
  • AHM 620 - Emergency and Crisis Management at the Airport: A comprehensive revision includes updated emergency response terminology and abbreviations. References to ICAO Annex 9 and relevant manuals provide guidance on assisting aircraft accident victims and their families. Additionally:
  • Outlines for corporate Emergency Response Plans (ERP) and Local Emergency Response Plans (LERP) have been updated.
  • Guidance on handling Public Health Emergencies and Virtual ERP activation is now included.
  • Improved guidance for ERP Exercises.

Additional Guidance and Updates to Ground Handling Agreements (Chapter 8)


Chapter 8 has been updated to provide clearer guidance and align with current standards. AHM 801 offers an introduction to the IATA Standard Ground Handling Agreement (SGHA), including how to reference Annex A within Annex B. The Yellow Pages in AHM 811 have been updated to reflect environmental management requirements in sub-articles 5.3 and 5.13. Annex A Services now includes updates on disinfection procedures, a revamp of fuelling/defueling services to separate the processes, and updates on Out-Of-Gauge (OOG) checked baggage. Additionally, baggage tracking services have been realigned to support the implementation of Resolution 753. Finally, AHM 820 has been revised to be consistent with the changes in AHM 811, specifically regarding the IATA Standard Ground Handling Subcontracting Agreement (SGHSA).

Revisions of Airport Handling GSE Specifications (Chapter 9)


Chapter 9 of the 45th edition has been updated to enhance ground support equipment (GSE) operations. AHM 907 now includes updated references to EU Norms and improved measures for fire prevention, including better notification systems to fire services regarding the properties and risks of electrically powered GSE (e-GSE) and their batteries. AHM 908 introduces new protocols for equipment sensor failure notifications in autonomous vehicles, along with considerations for autonomous trials across various GSE types and new test case scenarios. Additionally, AHM 955 provides a detailed functional specification for an aircraft nose gear towbar tractor, ensuring compliance with the latest industry standards.

Significant Revision of Environmental Specifications for Ground Handling Operations (Chapter 10)


The AHM 10 section has undergone a comprehensive rewrite, focusing on Environmental Management Systems (EMS). It now includes references to IEnvA (IATA Environmental Assessment), emphasizing alignment with industry standards. The benefits of implementing an EMS and ensuring IEnvA compliance are highlighted. Additionally, the revised section outlines the essential components of an EMS, providing practical guidance for airlines and ground handlers.

Modifications to Ground Operations Training Program (Chapter 11)


The Ground Operations Training Program (Section 11) now includes guidelines for implementing the IATA Training Passport within the industry. Additionally, there have been revisions to training records requirements. The training modules have been renumbered to align with the operational portal model.

What are the Standards of the IATA Airport Handling Manual?


The IATA AHM standards draw from guidelines set by authorities like ICAO and are shaped by collaborative industry workgroups, including airlines and associations. These groups, along with IATA workgroups, develop and endorse standards for safe, efficient air transport operations. The AHM serves as a tool to globally disseminate and ensure compliance with these standards, fostering industry-wide cooperation and guidance.

Why Should you Use the IATA Airport Handling Manual?


The IATA Airport Handling Manual is an essential asset for the industry, as evidenced by the following statistics:

  • A significant 91% of Ground Service Providers (GSPs) reported enhancements in their ground handling operations after utilizing the manual.
  • 84% of airline users experienced improvements in their ground handling operations, indicating widespread benefits across different types of users.
  • The manual has been instrumental in reducing aircraft damage risks, with 86% of GSPs users achieving this critical safety milestone.
  • 92% of all users concur that the manual’s content is not only current but also indispensable, underscoring its value in providing timely and crucial information.
  • Additionally, 86% of airline users have successfully minimized operational errors, further demonstrating the manual’s effectiveness in promoting operational excellence.

These compelling figures highlight the manual’s role in enhancing operational efficiency, safety, and accuracy, making it a valuable investment for any entity involved in airport handling.

What is Included in the Digital IATA Airport Handling Manual?


The digital format comes with automatic updates and a search function that makes finding current information easier. Additionally, the digital format of AHM contains the toolbox and resources with forms, checklists, and downloadable templates including, but not limited to:

  • Ground Handling Agreement templates including the IATA’s Standard Ground Handling Agreement, the IATA Service Level Agreement, the IATA Standard Training Agreement, the IATA Subcontracting Agreement and the IATA Standard Inflight Catering Agreement.
  • The Ground Operations XML Messaging Toolkit, which drives the development of digital messages, supporting aviation stakeholders in moving towards digitalization of ground operations. Find out more about the GOXML.
  • Comprehensive set of generic and GSE specific maintenance checklists and schedules recommended for use by OEMs, GSE owners / operators to standardize their GSE maintenance program.

How to get the Latest Edition of the IATA Airport Handling Manual?


By continously refining and updating our manuals based on user feedback, we aim to drive even greater efficiency, collaboration, and safety within the ground handling industry. 



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