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ULD review: Tom Allett reports on the new ULDs exhibited at inter airport Europe.

As usual, the air cargo industry was very well represented at this year's inter airport Europe. No less than four relatively new ULD designs were on display, which offered a wide-range of potential uses.


Just days before the Munich exhibition, AmSafe Inc announced that it had received FAA approval for its new temperature-controlled air cargo container. This is the first time the FAA has certified a compressor-driven refrigeration unit, permitting its use in the cargo section of an aircraft. The AcuTemp RKN is designed to enable the air cargo industry to precisely manage the temperatures in which perishable items are stored.

The manufacturer says it will deliver cargues at temperatures ranging from 4[degrees]C to 25[degrees]C (39.2[degrees]F to 77[degrees]F) and has the highest insulation R value (a measurement of insulation strength) available in the cargo industry. It also states that the unit can maintain a constant temperature more than four times longer than dry ice based systems, as it will sustain a controlled temperature environment for up to 100 hours in a self-contained unit.

Adhering to all international air cargo standards, the temperature-controlled unit is large enough to hold all shipments on standard Grocery Manufacturers of America pallets, which can be accommodated in the lower deck of most Boeing, Airbus and similar transport aircraft.

The product is now available for commercial service.


Germany's DoKaSch exhibited two ULDs at Munich. The first was manufactured from a carbon fibre composite called Dyneema, which, the company says, gives the unit the relatively light weight of 1471b (67kg) as opposed to 176-1801b (80-82kg) of a conventional ULD. DoKaSch claims that if a Dyneema unit is punctured, by a forklift truck for example, it won't suffer from the problems of having sharp edges around the damaged area like a traditional aluminium unit would. The company has developed a 'patch' repair specifically for this type of material. Several of the Dyneema ULDs are already in service with Lufthansa.


The company's second product on show at Munich was its RAP Opticooler, which--as the name suggests--is a temperature-controlled unit, capable of storing cargo from -20[degrees]C to + 30[degrees]C (68[degrees]F-86[degrees]F). Designed to handle perishables, especially the very demanding requirements of the pharmaceutical industry, the Opticooler performs its duties without the need for dry ice as it incorporates a battery-driven compressor. Company spokesman Klaus Borowski said that its fully rechargeable batteries could last up to a maximum of 110 hours, depending on how hard they are required to work.

Mr Borowski went on to explain that temperatures inside the ULD are recorded and stored on a memory disk on journeys of up to 14 days, and customers can have a print-out of the data upon delivery.

The Opticooler is also in commercial service with Lufthansa.


VRR also had two ULDs on display inside Hangar 4. The largest was an 1,105kg horse-carrier, which has recently entered service with Air France.

As those involved in the transport of livestock will know, animals are very sensitive to noise and excessive levels--even for a short period--can be very detrimental to their well-being. Thoroughbred horses that can be worth huge sums of money are regularly transported by air, so VRR has focused on providing a special mode of transport to meet that demand.


The design is effectively a derivative of military containers that are used for air-drops. Its walls have a honeycomb centre for extra strength. They are also soundproofed.

It is normal practice for containers that have been used to transport animals on the outbound sector to be sent back empty on the return leg; which reduces the economical viability of the operation. With this in mind VRR has designed its horse carrier to be loaded in two separate ways; walk-in for the horses, or to carry general cargo on the return leg, using an ordinary forklift-truck. This design doesn't need nets or straps to hold it in place, which allows easier in-flight access for the animals, should it be required. When being used for general cargo, the horsebox dividers simply slide to one side. The example on show at Munich was the sixth of an order for 14 from Air France. The units cost around 30,000 [euro] each.


VRR's second display item was a 295kg refrigeration unit which was making its inter airport debut having been launched in September 2006. Each one is built to the customer's specification, and the company's Sales Director Thijs van Riemsdijk stated that they cost in the region of 11,000 [euro], depending on their volume. Temperature data is stored on an ordinary memory card, which should preserve the information for up to three years. Mr van Riemsdijk added that the product is normally supplied with a 12-month guarantee.
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Title Annotation:Cargo
Author:Allett, Tom
Publication:Airports International
Date:Nov 1, 2007
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