Flight Redemptions

What is HUM in Aviation? (Human Remains)

Updated: February 28, 2024

The Significance of Human Remains in Aviation

Human Remains, commonly abbreviated as HUM, hold great importance in the field of aviation. Whether it is the transportation of deceased individuals or the handling of human remains during forensic investigations, aviation plays a crucial role. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of human remains in aviation, including their transportation, regulations, and the specialized services offered in this domain.

Transporting Human Remains

The transportation of human remains is a delicate process that requires careful attention to detail. When a deceased individual needs to be transported by air, several factors come into play to ensure a respectful and smooth journey. Airlines have specific protocols in place to handle such situations, ensuring that the remains are treated with dignity and transported safely to their final destination.

When transporting human remains, it is crucial to comply with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations. These regulations outline the necessary documentation, packaging, and handling procedures to ensure the safety and security of the remains. Airlines typically require a death certificate, embalming certificate (if applicable), and a statement from the funeral director or responsible party before accepting the remains for transportation.

Furthermore, the packaging of human remains is of utmost importance. The remains must be placed in an appropriate container that meets the airline's requirements. This container should be leak-proof, sturdy, and adequately sealed to prevent any potential hazards during transit. Airlines may also provide specific instructions for labeling and identification purposes to avoid any confusion or mishandling of the remains.

Specialized Services for Human Remains

Several specialized services cater to the transportation of human remains in the aviation industry. These services ensure that the entire process is handled with care and professionalism. One such service is mortuary shipping, which focuses on the transportation of human remains from one location to another, both domestically and internationally.

Companies specializing in mortuary shipping offer a range of services, including embalming, cremation, and repatriation. They work closely with funeral homes, airlines, and government authorities to ensure that all necessary permits, documentation, and clearances are obtained. These services prioritize the dignity and respect of the deceased, providing grieving families with peace of mind during this challenging time.

Additionally, forensic aviation services play a vital role in the investigation of human remains related to criminal cases or accidents. Forensic experts work closely with aviation authorities to gather evidence, conduct autopsies, and aid in the identification process. These experts are trained to handle the unique challenges associated with aviation-related incidents, ensuring that justice is served and families receive closure.

Regulations and Considerations

Due to the sensitive nature of human remains, several regulations and considerations are in place to safeguard their transportation and handling within the aviation industry. These regulations aim to maintain the dignity of the deceased and provide a standardized framework for airlines, funeral homes, and other entities involved.

One significant regulation is the Montreal Convention of 1999, an international treaty that establishes the liability and compensation framework for airline carriers in the event of accidents or incidents involving human remains. This convention ensures that families of the deceased are adequately compensated and that airlines take responsibility for any mishandling or negligence.

Moreover, airlines must adhere to the guidelines provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to ensure the security and safety of human remains during transit. These guidelines include the screening of containers, X-ray examinations, and the use of appropriate technology to detect any potential threats without compromising the integrity of the remains.

When transporting human remains internationally, it is essential to consider the specific customs and regulations of the destination country. Each country may have its own requirements for documentation, permits, and transportation procedures. It is crucial to work closely with the appropriate authorities and service providers to navigate these regulations effectively.

It is worth noting that the transportation of human remains is not limited to commercial airlines. Military aircraft also play a significant role in repatriating fallen soldiers and military personnel. The procedures and protocols for transporting human remains in a military context may differ from those of commercial airlines due to their unique operational considerations and objectives.


The transportation and handling of human remains in aviation require meticulous attention to detail, adherence to regulations, and specialized services. Whether it is the transportation of deceased individuals or the investigation of forensic cases, the aviation industry plays a vital role in ensuring the dignity and respect of human remains. By following the necessary protocols and working closely with the appropriate authorities and service providers, airlines contribute to the smooth and compassionate handling of human remains, providing solace to grieving families and aiding in the pursuit of justice.

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