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How Do You Load Freight onto an Airplane?

air freight

air freightMany businesses import and export freight regularly. Not as many know the ins and outs of how freight is loaded onto a cargo airplane. How does air freight work?

Why Ship by Air Freight?

Let’s take one of the larger cargo airplanes as an example. A Boeing 747 can be configured for many duties, including as a passenger airliner or for freight responsibilities. As configured for freight, it can hold 26,000 ft3 worth of cargo. That roughly the cargo equivalent of five trucks.

From one perspective, that’s a lot of space for cargo. If you’re shipping less than that amount it makes complete sense to move your freight by air. This is especially true if the freight shouldn’t be in transit for too long, it’s on a deadline, or it’s especially expensive, fragile, or antique. Air freight is the best solution for all of these, and it’s the fastest solution available for shipping.

If you have the time to plan ahead and you have the luxury of moving your cargo slowly, you might instead opt for rail or cargo vessel. These can take a week or more where air freight is much more direct and immediate, but may be more suitable for shipping affordably in bulk.

 

How to Load Air Freight

A Boeing 747 is loaded through hatches in the side of the plane, or through a nose hatch for larger cargo. The plane is up off the ground and its loading spaces don’t necessarily accommodate forklifts. This is fine, since there are efficient, safe alternatives for loading a plane.

Hydraulic lifts can raise cargo, and electric rollers installed into the plane help shift cargo to different areas of the hold. A 747 will hold 35 pallets that are 8×10.5×10 ft, and 14 containers that are about half as tall. Of course, they can be fitted to ship cars or any number of other goods.

For much larger cargo, you can aim for a super transporter. These are planes that are so big they can transport entire other planes. These are ideal for shipping a range of different vehicles, including construction shipping to remote areas.