The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the launch of a safety campaign to reduce the number of ground handling incidents involving Unit Load Devices (ULDs). Through raising awareness of the need for careful handling of ULDs across all touch points, the campaign seeks to minimise flight safety risk and reduce the number of incidents of aircraft and container damage from mishandling. IATA’s target is to save the cargo industry around US$264 million annually through promoting better ULD handling.
Announcing the launch of the programme at the 10th World Cargo Symposium in Berlin, IATA’s global head of cargo Glyn Hughes commented: “The number one cause of aircraft damage from ground loading equipment is from mishandled ULDs. In addition to the high costs involved in repairing damage to aircraft, maintenance to ULDs also incurs significant costs. Last year the industry’s ULD repair bill was $330 million however it is estimated that 80 per cent of these costs could be saved through correct handling.”
ULDs are also essential to flight safety and correct onboard loading is critical to ensuring a safe and balanced aircraft load. Yet, due to the fact that they are the only aircraft part to leave control of the airline and return after passing through many ‘unregulated’ (not directly covered by airworthiness regulations) hands the ULD handling process is open to vulnerability. This makes it even more essential that everyone handling ULDs to not only be properly trained but also has a wider understanding of the impact of ULD mishandling.