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   Vol. 19 No. 37
Monday May 4, 2020
Will Pandemic 2020 Bring Back Combi Cargo?
KLM B747Combi

     The carriage of cargo in passenger compartments has opened up thoughts of permanent change moving forward.
     It is no secret that cargo in passenger compartments, as an every day event brings into play a great deal of ingenuity to support the safe and efficient operation of this practice.
The question is raised whether the industry will see a return to combi aircraft, not an unreasonable proposition, given the urgent need to put grounded passenger aircraft to use.
     Creating combi models of today's mainstream aircraft such as B777, B787 and A350 XWB would clearly take enormous amount of time and money, and also be non- reversible.
     But Bob Rogers,Vice President and Treasurer ULD Care has been kicking the cans around for years and right now thinks that there are actually a couple of “combi lite” options that could be well worth considering.
     “Providing a low cost, safe, main deck solution that would avoid complex and expensive aircraft modifications, while enabling the use of container type loading to reduce manpower and turnaround times, could be just around the corner,” Bob enthuses.

Bob Rogers

Removeable Main Deck Systems

     “Back in the 1970’s/ 80’s,” Bob declared, “a number of B747 /DC10 operators utilized a system whereby a lightweight non-powered cargo loading/restraint system could be laid onto the floor of the rearmost compartment of the aircraft and secured to the seat tracks,” Bob told FT from his base in Hong Kong.
     “The system was removable (maybe half a day to remove or install) and enabled the use of special cargo containers that typically had dimension of 38 ins wide (to fit through the pax door ) by 64” high by either 61.5 or 125” long.
     “Best of all the change over to cargo required no significant modification to the airframe,” Bob assured.
     “We recall that a number of airlines used these systems, Alitalia and Philippine Airlines, Lufthansa and Aer Lingus are four (also KL used this system on DC 10s).
     “The systems were manufactured by Transequip (now owned by Telair) and Brooks and Perkins,” Bob recalled.

Fast Forward To Today

     “Although,” Bob declared, “these systems were designed for older model aircraft, today in an adaptive reuse scheme to start with the principles, we imagine will be the same.
     “In the earlier combi operations described here, containers had a max gross weight of about 800 lbs, presumably to be capable of handling a 9G load as there was no 9G barrier net, and had to be loaded with doors facing aft.
     “The containers were loaded using either a main deck loader or a modified catering truck and the cargo loading system provided a ball mat right up the door sill, so the containers could be easily moved into position.
     “Under the passenger-combi scheme of yesteryear there was some kind of aisle allowing passenger access to the rear toilets and lightweight removeable vertical panels to close off the cargo holding area,” Bob Rogers said.

A Proven Track Record

     “This is a proven concept, used by a number of airlines years ago but long since forgotten. But here we are in 2020 in a brave new world thinking it would seem very feasible to dust off this concept, adapt it to today’s aircraft and put it into service within a realistic time and cost.”

Airborne Express Adaptive System

     “An alternative to the conventional cargo loading system used for placing ULD into aircraft was utilized by Airborne Express some years ago, initially on narrow bodied aircraft and then finally on B767F
     “That system dispensed with a wide cargo door and instead used narrow ULD that could pass through the standard passenger door.
     “In this system the ULDs were fitted with casters (somewhat similar to a galley cart) and the aircraft floor was equipped with a series of tracks and locks into which the ULD were rolled and then locked in place.
      “While this concept was applied by Airborne Express to full freighters there would be no technical reason why it could not be applied to a particular zone of a passenger aircraft.”

What Goes Around Comes Around

     “Both these methods, long since consigned to history, could actually be very applicable in today’s situation, avoiding the expense and time involved to create a true combi, while enabling the efficiency of unitized cargo loading and handling,” Bob Rogers concluded.

Main Deck Cargo Webinar Tuesday May 5

     IATA Cargo is conducting a webinar on May 5th (10:00 EST,16:00 CEST) that will focus on transport of cargo on aircraft configured for the carriage of passengers.
More click here.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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Vol. 19 No. 34
What Have They Done To The Rain
Virgin Reopens China Service
Virus Trucking Needs Coordination

Vol. 19 No. 35
Virgin Cargo has a Pizzazz
Rationalizing Nationalizing Airlines
Italy and India in Virus Pandemic
Chuckles for April 27, 2020

Vol. 19 No. 36
Dixie Chicks on Truckers Menu
Words May Inspire
Pumping Traffic for April 30
Chuckles for April 30, 2020
Letters to the Editor
Qatar Cargo is up to Down Under
Finnair Sends out the Pasi

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