Dangerous Goods 9: Building Up a Unit Load Device (ULD)

In this issue, the what, why, where and when questions that arise when building up a ULD (Unit Load Device) are addressed. From the arrival of a shipment at the door, to it’s final point of leaving the shed fully built up and ready to fly securely and safely, the process chain is a long one.

A huge amount of information needs to be checked and cross referenced and the final decision as to whether or not that shipment or ULD flies rests with the individual in charge of the flight / build up. The process starts with reservations making the booking and then continues in a process likely to be similar to that below.

  1. Reservations make the booking

Dimensions are documented but if additional equipment is used and raises the overall dimensions, will it still be able to fly?

  1. Know your consignments

What type of commodity is the cargo to be loaded? Can it be loaded safely? Where can it be loaded? What can it be loaded with? Will it fit? Is the correct equipment available to safely load the shipment?

  1. Identify the Aircraft

Will it fit on the Aircraft? Is the aircraft narrow or wide bodied.

  1. Identify ULD

Will the cargo fit in the ULD? Will the ULD fit on the aircraft? Is the ULD serviceable?

  1. Loading Position on Aircraft

Can the cargo be loaded in this position?

  1. Check the Contour

Once the shape is created on a pallet, will it fit in a container?

  1. Commodity

Is the cargo DGR or a Special Load? Can it be loaded into a container?

  1. Is it radioactive?

Amount of T.I’s in compartment? Is there sufficient loading height.

  1. Cargo lifespan

Is the cargo perishable? Must it fly on its booked flight otherwise the consignment is useless?

  1. Sufficient lashing

Is the cargo safe to fly? Will it move? Has the gross weight been considered!

  1. Floor Bearing Capacity

Is the load spread over the base of the ULD to avoid floor bearing capacity being exceeded?

  1. Compatibility

Can it be loaded it with another DG shipment? Has separation and distance been considered? Has accessibility been considered? Can a shipment be loaded M/D or L/D on board an aircraft?

  1. Destination of Aircraft

Are there any Special requirements or country limitations for DG – ‘Thru’ units – Flight direction.

  1. Forces in the Air during Landing or Take Off

Air pockets or close turns can cause cargo to move. Could a HEA piece of Cargo move due to insufficient lashing?

  1. Standard / Mixed / Embraced / Direct Lashing

Have the requirements for securing in flight depending on cargo been considered.

  1. ULD Tags

Is the weight correct? Have the SHC’s all been documented on the tag and Pallet Weight Statement.

  1. Correct System Input?

Has all the information been correctly inputted into an cargo management system, like Hermes to transmit information to all concerned.

ULD (Unit Load Device):

ULDs are used for the storage of cargo on the aircraft and are divided into two types;

Pallets and Containers:

Pallets are secured by a net, attached to the rim of the pallet. The final shape (contour) chosen in the build-up of a ULD needs to fit the allocated aircraft type.

Containers provide the shape (contour) so the contents are secured either by the container doors being closed and bolted, or the door net being secured to the rims of the container walls and floor.

Container or Pallet?

Advantages of using a container:

  • Faster loading and unloading of the aircraft and container
  • Better protection against weather conditions
  • Better protection against damage to the cargo or to the aircraft
  • Less experienced personnel required for build up as contour is complete

Why use a pallet?

  • Some cargo is difficult to fit into containers
  • There are more options for build-up when using an open pallet
  • Some ‘Special Load’ cargo can only be loaded on open pallets

More information?

For comprehensive information from IATA on the Dangerous Goods Regulations visit their website: www.iata.org


If you have any questions on the topics discussed here mail us at: marketing@hermes-cargo.com

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