Air travel not only revolutionised the transport industry, but also offered a new, faster and more convenient option for sending packages over long distances and overseas. Deliveries that formerly took weeks or even months (in the case of international cargo ships) could now be made in just a few hours, opening up countless opportunities for global commerce, imports and exports, without having to worry about time-sensitive products expiring or arranging permits to cross international waters.
Almost anything can be shipped by air freight, from letters to cars and even livestock – exempting items that may prove hazardous to the journey, are too heavy, or are simply too large even for the biggest jumbo freight planes. Couriers use several different types of planes to transport their cargo depending on their suitability, with some requiring specialised cargo planes and others being suitable for transport on commercial flights.
Many passenger flights carry additional freight between destinations, in addition to the belongings of passengers themselves. Purchasing cargo space on commercial airlines may prove cheaper in some instances than paying for dedicated cargo planes, and airlines are happy to receive the business – between five to ten per cent of airline profits come from commercial cargo arrangements. The disadvantage of shipping cargo on passenger planes is the limitation of space, which makes this method of transport insufficient for many companies’ needs.
The most common method used to transport air cargo is to purchase cargo space or make a regular arrangement on dedicated cargo planes, which are usually large and expansive planes refitted for the sole purpose of carrying cargo supplies. Companies may own cargo planes as part of their vehicle fleet, in the event that they make use of their services regularly – usually delivery companies – but most organisations purchase the amount of space required on one or more planes.
Compared to the modest capacities of passenger aircraft, large cargo planes the size of a Boeing 747-400 can hold 26,000 cubic feet of cargo, or the equivalent of five shipping trucks. If your cargo needs are even larger, you will need to investigate options such as super transporters. If you’re concerned about the security or protection of your cargo during transport, you should research the shipping company you’re thinking of using to give you greater confidence in their service. Cargo planes use secure storage systems and pallets that can be moved throughout the aircraft with ease on motorised rollers.