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 ADI

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.

​Aircraft disinsection questions and answers

The following questions and answers are for aircraft arrivals into Australia. For more information, or information regarding arrivals into New Zealand, see the Schedule of Aircraft Disinsection Procedures for Flights into Australia and New Zealand.

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Disinsection process

What brand of disinsection sprays can I use?

Callington Haven is currently the only brand that has been approved for use in Australia by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

For treatment methods conducted in Australia (On-Arrival method), airlines must use Callington Haven. For all other treatment methods conducted overseas, airlines can use any brand they prefer provided the cans use the correct chemical, amount and discharge rate (1 gram per second).

For a list of active ingredients for each method, refer to Table 1 in the Schedule of aircraft disinsection procedures for flights into Australia and New Zealand.  

How much treatment is required for each aircraft?

The amount of treatment and number of cans varies depending on the aircraft type. The correct amount of spray can be found in the Spray rates listing for flights into Australia and New Zealand. If the aircraft is not listed, airlines can use the Spray rates calculator tool if dimensions are known. Alternatively, airlines can contact the department to check the amount of treatment required by emailing arrivals@agriculture.gov.au or by calling +61 2 6272 4986.

Which applicator should I use for the Residual method?

It is the responsibility of the airline to select which applicator they choose to employ for the Residual method. Agriculture is unable to make recommendations on which residual applicator airlines should use. The applicator must sign a contract of service with the airline, and this must be provided to the department at the time of entering into an Approved Arrangement.

Do I need to supply the cans for the On-Arrival method?

The airline can either supply the cans, or our biosecurity officers at the port of arrival can provide the cans for the On-Arrival method. This is chargeable for both the service and the product. If you require biosecurity officers to provide cans, it is preferable to let us know in advance.

Who can use a Contract of Service?

A Contract of Service must be completed by the airline and the applicator, when airline is on an Approved Arrangement for the Residual method. 

Can aircraft crew perform Residual method?

Aircraft crew can perform the Residual method, provided they have been adequately trained. Airlines must provide procedures and training material to the department prior to this being approved.

Do airlines need to complete a Contract of Service for Pre Embarkation method?

No, airlines do not need to complete a Contract of Service for Pre Embarkation method. The Contract of Service is required when using the Residual method.

Where can I find the disinsection certificates?

Airlines are required to complete a certificate for all disinsection methods, except for the On-Arrival method. The certificates can be found in the appendices of the Schedule of aircraft disinsection procedures for flights into Australia and New Zealand

What do biosecurity officers check for to verify disinsection?

This depends on which disinsection method the airline is using.

If the airline is utilising the Pre-spray and Top of Descent method, biosecurity officers will meet the aircraft on arrival to check the completed certificate and empty cans.

If the airline is on an Approved Arrangement, and utilising the Residual method or the Pre-embarkation method, biosecurity officers will check the Aircraft Disinsection Information (ADI) system to see when the aircraft was treated.

Biosecurity will also conduct random verification activities such as attending to the aircraft to check cans and certificates.

For the On-Arrival method, biosecurity officers supervise the spraying on arrival.

What happens if disinsection isn’t able to be verified at the arrival port or if treatment is not conducted?

If certificates and/or cans are incorrect or unable to be located, then the aircraft will be re-sprayed. The biosecurity officers will supervise this respray on arrival. This is a chargeable service, and can delay the disembarkation of passengers and cargo.

What is a live fly bioassay?

Agriculture works with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in New Zealand to regulate joint aircraft disinsection requirements. MPI provides efficacy testing on aircraft flying into New Zealand by conducting live fly bioassays. This is to verify that the disinsection treatment was conducted to a satisfactory level.

What happens if my aircraft fails a bioassay?

If your aircraft fails a bioassay, Agriculture or the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in New Zealand will be in contact with your airline for the next steps. The next steps will depend on the exact results of the bioassay.

What are the reporting responsibilities of the aircraft operator?

It is the responsibility of the aircraft operator to advise Agriculture as part of the pre-arrival report under Section 37 of the Biosecurity Regulations 2016.

This report must be given at the earlier of: as close to the top of descent as operationally practicable, 30 minutes before the aircraft is estimated to arrive into Australia, or at the time specified by a biosecurity officer.

Do I need an ABN or ACN to enter into a disinsection Approved Arrangement?

Yes, it is a requirement to have and provide us with your airlines ABN or ACN to enter into an Approved Arrangement. For more information about applying for an ABN, visit the Australian Business Register website.

Aircraft Disinsection Information (ADI) database

How do I get access to ADI?

Airlines are provided with a log-in and password on successful completion of a disinsection Approved Arrangement with either Agriculture or the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), New Zealand.

I have been locked out of ADI from entering the incorrect password – what do I do now?

If a password is entered three times incorrectly, the system will lock the user out for 30 minutes from the last incorrect attempt. If you or someone at your company may remember your password, please wait 30 minutes and attempt to log in again.

If you do not know what your password is and would like to reset it, please either email Agriculture at arrivals@agriculture.gov.au or call +61 2 6272 4986 to reset your password.

Why do I need to update ADI?

If you have an Approved Arrangement with Agriculture or the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) in New Zealand, it is important to update ADI when your airline has been treated. Biosecurity officers will use ADI to verify your aircraft disinsection has been completed as per your Approved Arrangement’s requirements.

What happens if I do not update ADI?

If you do not update ADI, a Biosecurity officer will be required to meet your aircraft to verify disinsection has taken place, and has been conducted correctly. The Biosecurity officer will do this by checking the cans used, and the completed certificates. This is a chargeable service and will delay the disembarkation of passengers.

I need assistance with how to use ADI or disinsection, who can I contact?

If you have further queries about how to use ADI, please either email Agriculture at arrivals@agriculture.gov.au or call +61 2 6272 4986.

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