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.
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.
“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.
“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.”
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
“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.”
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
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.