Just to refresh your memory, a ULD (or unit load device) is either a pallet or container used to load luggage, freight, and mail on wide-body and specific narrow-body aircrafts. Pallets are made of rugged aluminum walls with rims designed to lock onto cargo net logs, while containers are typically closed and may have internal refrigeration units. ULDs are beneficial to all industries since they allow large quantities to be bundled into a single unit and thus require fewer transport loads. By using a ULD, your company can save time, money, and help prevent delays at the airport.
So who officially controls these ULDs? Unit load devices are actually owned by individual airlines. Every time a ULD is released or accepted by an airline agent, a ULD control receipt report is completed. This document is vital to determine the responsibility and liability in respect of each unit released or accepted into a warehouse. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the primary source of industry wide technical information for ULDs and monitors these acceptable specifications closely.
Every unit load device is given a category code (one letter of the alphabet), depending on what type of product it is carrying or what kind of ULD it is. Here are some common codes:
D – Non-certified container
P – Certified aircraft pallet
R – Thermal certified aircraft container
J – Thermal non-certified aircraft container
U – Non-structural container
H – Horse stall
K – Cattle stall
V – Automobile transport equipment
When it comes time to ship you ULD, there are specific details you should pay close attention to concerning the ULD’s contour. With an open pallet, you have the opportunity to create the shape or outline, so you should know: the ULD routing, the aircraft you are loading the completed container for flight, and the loading position on the aircraft. When consulting with the airline, look into their manuals and regulations to confirm any queries you may have (some aircrafts have odd sizes for ULDs to fit in certain loading positions). All three of these elements can adversely affect your package if they are not looked into ahead of time. For instance, if the contour of the ULD is not correct it will be offloaded regardless of the cargo. This will delay your shipment, causing your customers to have an unsatisfactory experience with your company and costing you valuable time and money.
For more information, visit http://www.iata.org.