Cabin Cargo Innovation Remains Popular For Some Airlines
Passenger planes dedicated solely to cargo operations played an important role during the pandemic by providing essential humanitarian and commercial supplies, as well as generating income for cash-strapped airlines when travel plummeted.
Most airlines have used the bottom half of planes for cargo, where it normally shares space with baggage, but some have added extra capacity by storing light items in the passenger cabin and even removing seats. to allow full loading on the ground.
The economy of flying an airplane with a payload less than half of a pure freighter carrying heavy containers on the main deck is not great, but works when freight rates are very high and fuel prices are low. moderate. Placing cargo in top bins, seats, and other areas of the cabin allows airlines to carry more cargo per flight, but it is also labor-intensive as the boxes have to be manually loaded through. narrow and carefully placed doors to minimize damage to interior features.
With air freight rates several times higher than normal and tight capacities for the rest of the year, some airlines are continuing the cabin freight model.
Emirates has operated more than 3,100 flights with cargo in the seats and in the overhead compartments of Boeing 777-300s, carrying more than 11,000 metric tonnes in the past year to early May, he said. he stated in a press release. This equates to over 800,000 seats with freight.
Face masks and other personal protective equipment were the most commonly transported goods. Other general cargo, including clothing and apparel, dry food, dental supplies and sporting goods, were also carried on seats. They adapt to the profile of the cabin cargo because they are light.
Emirates SkyCargo, the cargo division of the Dubai-based airline, said demand remains high for transporting medical equipment and other cargo inside the cabin.
The carrier has also removed the economy seats from 14 B777s to increase cabin utilization.
Cabin loading requires approval from national aviation authorities. Ground crews also need to be trained on the most efficient and safe way to load and secure cargo in passenger cabins. Airlines and aviation authorities set the maximum weight and dimensions for individual packages, as well as the types of cargo allowed inside the cabin, and have additional fire safety procedures.
Emirates, for example, requires that all perishable cargo packaging for loading on seats and garbage cans include an adequate internal absorbent layer. He has also developed an application allowing freight handlers to calculate the optimum loading capacity inside the cabin.
Airlines that continue to use the cabin for auxiliary cargo space include Air Canada (OTCUS: AC), Asiana, Cathay Pacific and Korean Air.
Airlines also use special covers, or seat bags, to prevent accidental damage to the interiors of aircraft, such as seat back entertainment screens.
Dutch airline KLM recently started using bespoke seat bags from Trip & Co. in the 777s to increase efficiency and protection. The seat bags, which have been approved by the Dutch Civil Aviation Authority, were first deployed on a flight last month that carried around 950 boxes of medical supplies and COVID-19 test kits from Shanghai to Amsterdam.
The bags double the capacity on the seats, avoid physical stress during handling and avoid plastic waste. KLM initially secured medical relief items on seats with plastic sheeting and straps, which only allowed one box to be loaded per seat.
KLM cargo saddle bags are available in three versions: single, double and triple seat. They can also be used on the Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A330-200.
Click here for more FreightWaves / American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.
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