Aircraft disinsection

Australian legislation states that all aircraft entering Australia must be treated in a manner approved by the Director of Human Biosecurity. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources administers disinsection requirements on behalf of the Australian Department of Health.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) New Zealand work in partnership to develop and regulate joint aircraft disinsection requirements.

Disinsection requirements are based on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.

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Definition of disinsection

WHO defines ‘disinsection’ as: the procedure whereby health measures are taken to control or kill the insect vectors of human diseases present in baggage, cargo, containers, conveyances, goods and postal parcels.

WHO recommends that aircraft disinsection will minimise the risks of vectors and diseases spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes act as transmitters or vectors of pathogens or parasites that are responsible for spreading a number of human pathogenic organisms, such as dengue fever, yellow fever, Ross River fever and malaria.

WHO reports on aircraft disinsection

The International Health Regulations 2005 (IHRs) took effect on 15 June 2007. The IHRs establish global benchmark standards to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. The IHRs continue to maintain that the disinsection of aircraft is a necessary measure to help prevent the spread of vector borne diseases.

Types of aircraft disinsection

As outlined in the Schedule of Aircraft Disinsection Procedures for Flights into Australia and New Zealand there are four types of disinsection methods that can be used:

  • Residual - is carried out while no passengers are onboard. The entire aircraft is sprayed with a residual insecticide and lasts eight weeks
  • Pre-embarkation - is carried out while no passengers are on board. Crew may be on board as this method is completed up to 40 minutes prior to passengers boarding the aircraft. The treatment lasts for the duration of the single flight
  • Pre-flight and top of descent - refers to a two-part process consisting of pre-flight and top of descent spraying. Pre-flight spraying is followed by a further in-flight spray of a non-residual insecticide, carried out at top of descent as the aircraft starts its descent into either Australia or New Zealand. The treatment lasts for the duration of the single flight
  • On-arrival - is an in-flight spray of a non- residual insecticide, carried out once the aircraft lands in Australia or New Zealand. The treatment lasts for that one arrival.

WHO reports on aircraft disinsection

The International Health Regulations 2005 (IHRs) took effect on 15 June 2007. The IHRs establish global benchmark standards to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. The IHRs continue to maintain that the disinsection of aircraft is a necessary measure to help prevent the spread of vector borne diseases.

Disinsection Approved Arrangements (AA)

Section 405 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 provides for the adoption of arrangements relevant to certain biosecurity activities. These arrangements are legally binding between the department and an industry party (the airline), and require the airline to perform specific disinsection related tasks in an agreed manner.

The department and MPI work in partnership and regulate each other’s arrangements and any other undertakings as required.

Approval to perform either residual and or pre–embarkation disinsection is dependent on airlines entering into a class 43.1 disinsection treatment Approved Arrangement (AA) with the department. These AA’s outline the application of a particular set of requirements; and the supervision, monitoring and testing of the airline’s compliance with those requirements.
To enter into an AA with the department your airline must review the:

Complete an:

which are available on the AA webpages.

Airlines flying into Australia are permitted to perform pre–flight and top of descent disinsection without prior arrangement being made with either the department or MPI.

The on–arrival disinsection method will take place if an airline has not satisfactorily performed disinsection as per their AA with either the department or MPI or performed pre–flight and top of descent disinsection. This will incur a fee for service charge to the airline operator.

Benefits of an Approved Agreement?

Entering into an Approved Arrangement (AA) with the department is entirely voluntary. Where a party chooses not to enter into one, the department will implement monitoring regimes aimed at maintaining biosecurity integrity relative to aircraft disinsection. A Fee for Service charge will apply.

AA’s can deliver tangible benefits to your airline. Some of these benefits include:

  • streamlined processes, for example airlines can finalise disembarking activities without needing to wait for a department officer to attend the aircraft.
  • improved airline staff knowledge as a result of training received in disinsection related activities
  • airline engagement with the department will promote awareness on human health and disinsection related activities
  • airlines can feel confident they are complying with Australian legislation requirements.

Aircraft Disinsection Database

The Aircraft Disinsection Information database (ADI) is designed to provide up-to-date information regarding the status of residual and pre-embarkation disinsection of international aircraft arriving into Australia and New Zealand. Not updating ADI will result a biosecurity officer attending the flight on-arrival and a Fee for Service charge will apply.

Airlines will be given access to ADI on successful completion of a residual or pre-embarkation AA with either the department or MPI.