Modern Cargo Aircraft – Various Long Haul Short Haul Cargo Planes

Introduction To Modern Cargo Aircraft

Before planes were invented, ships, barges and boats carried freight. Ships crossed the oceans and boats and barges were used for inland waterways.Ships carried a vast amount of cargo and proved to be a blessing for transporting huge and oversized freight across the oceans. Ships take a long time in reaching the destinations, which at times proved to be a negative influence on the industry geared to race against time. When passenger aircraft began carrying freight, the speed of the industrial development began to change. Within a short span of time, air freight made it to the front. Modern cargo aircraft changed the freight world further.

Today air freight is fully integrated into society that there is no surprise in it anymore, except when a large machine makes it to the news. Your attention is requested to a small anecdote here, the courtesy for which goes to Roland Spijker, who has done us all a very great service in putting up the largest set of information about the history of air freight on Facebook. Short narration of the aircraft in use follow this short interesting piece of news.

modern cargo aircraft

 Courtesy : Roland Spijker

In 1910 the Wright Brothers received an unsolicited letter from Max Morehouse, a Columbus, Ohio department store owner inquiring “how much will you charge to bring a roll of silk ribbon from your city to our establishment?”This inquiry led to a contact between Morehouse and the Wright Exhibition Company to fly 200 pounds of silk worth $800 from Dayton to Columbus.

The airplane to be used was the latest Wright airplane, the Model B. It was the first Wright airplane to use wheels instead of a sled design. Another significant design change was that the vertical stabilizer was moved from the front of the airplane to the rear behind the tail. The Model B had a thirty-nine foot wing span and was powered with a forty horsepower gasoline engine.

Philip Parmalee, a 24-year-old graduate of the Wright flying school, was selected as the pilot. He was trained at the Wright’s school located in Montgomery Alabama.

There were few navigational aids to guide flight in those days, so Orville gave Parmalee a map of a railroad track to follow to Columbus, which he fastened to a wing strut for ease of viewing.

At 10:45 a.m. on November 7, 1910, Parmalee took off from Huffman Prairie airfield outside of Dayton headed for Columbus. Huffman Prairie was in reality a cow pasture that the Wrights used after their experiments at Kitty Hawk. It is now a part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Here begins the history of air cargo which later saw the development of modern cargo aircraft. In 1925 Ford Motor Company  started flying cargo extensively. For those in the state of Sacramento (North East),US, there is a heartwarming  experience awaiting you, in the State Parks Warehouse, McClellan Air Force Base (This has nothing to do with cargo planes but a look back into history). The narration below will concentrate only on short pieces of information relevant to freight in general, but will also contain a few words about the planes. Not all the aircraft mentioned here are seen on a daily basis but those who are in the field of freight forwarding will be interested in the three-point description about the freight possibilities.

Special configurations of planes are not referred to here (e.g. Finnair uses an ATR72 with the passenger entrance in the front. Standard configuration of this aircraft has the cargo hold door in the front)

A Short Remembrance Of The Forerunner Of Today’s Giants

Following a crash in Kharkiv International Airport, 18th May 1972 saw the end of a short era (1955 – 1972) of a proud Antonov aircraft, AN10. This turboprop aircraft lead the way to a series of efficient aircraft, carrying the name Antonov, and built especially for carrying freight. The aircraft that followed AN10 were for military purposes and even today this continues to be true. AN10 did not have a good cabin volume efficiency and suffered stability problems, as well, which lead to changes in the architecture. AN10 does not fly anymore but the Antonov planes that followed are some of the largest carriers in service.

cargo aircraft AN10Courtesy: Aleksander Markin  Creative Commons

Smaller Aircraft

Shorts 360 (SD3-60)

There are times when a not so big piece of freight needs to be flown in the case of an emergency delivery. The choice here is an interesting  modern cargo aircraft with an interesting architecture, which reminds us a bit of the “good old times”. Although used as a passenger plane, Short 360 is also used for short-haul flights for carrying freight. This Irish plane is still in use, although the production stopped in 1991. This is a strut braced shoulder wing aircraft (wings are on the shoulder and struts support the wings (see below in the picture) .

  • Maximum Loadable Volume: 40 cubic meters
  • Maximum payload: 3500 Kg
  • Cargo Door : Width = 142 cm x Height 168 cm

cargo aircraft

Courtesy : Jerome   Licence: Creative Commons

 ATR 72 The French Italian aircraft

From 1986, the shoulder wing, turboprop,  short seat pitch, ATR 72 has been in service, with a capacity for up to 68 passengers. The passenger entrance is at the rear, because the cargo door is in the front. When parked for loading a tail prop is required to maintain the horizontal position of the aircraft, since the loading might result in the tail dipping, lifting the nose off the ground.

  • Maximum Loadable Volume : 8000 Kg
  • Maximum payload : 75 cubic meters
  • Cargo Door : Width = 294 cm  x Height  180 cm

In freight forwarding the aircraft is used for short-haul flights for emergency freight. FedEx, too, deploys this plane in their fleet. Apart from this, the modern sleek cargo plane is usually used in passenger services.

In the Photo below, the cargo hold door shown in the front and  the passenger stairway, at the rear, integrated into the fuselage. Directly behind the stairway, the tail prop can be seen.

cargo aircraft
ATR 72 CCM” by Mili99 – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.



 Metroliners : II and III and 23cargo aircraft

No more under production but still in service, Metroliners (bought by Fairchild from Swearingen after the latter suffered financial crisis), this twin turboprop is used for emergency short-haul freight charters, apart from passenger flights. It is a shoulder wing plane.

Both have the same cargo door sizes. Metroliner 23 has a higher freight capacity (2300 Kg) compared to II (1400 Kg)and III (2100 Kg) but a slightly smaller door (see below)

Metroliner II

  • Maximum Loadable Volume : 1400 Kg
  • Maximum payload : 75 cubic meters
  • Cargo Door : Width = 130 cm  x Height  115 cm

Metroliner III

  • Maximum Loadable Volume : 2100 Kg
  • Maximum payload : 75 cubic meters
  • Cargo Door : Width = 130 cm  x Height  115 cm

Metroliner 23

  • Maximum Loadable Volume : 2300 Kg
  • Maximum payload : 75 cubic meters
  • Cargo Door : Width = 127 cm  x Height  115 cm



cargo aircraftCourtesy: Martin Hartland  Metroliner II  Creative Commons Licence


The Large And Very Large Cargo Aircraft


 Antonov 225 Mriya

Two aircraft come to mind when one thinks of extremely large modern cargo aircraft. AN225  also called as Mriya (Dream) is a huge machine . If we leave out Hercules H-4, AN225 is the largest machine ever built. Only one aircraft built. The second one is still in construction! A six engine awe-inspiring giant of the skies.

  • Maximum Payload : 250,000 Kg
  • Maximum Volume : 1100 cubic meters
  • Cargo Door : Width 640cm x Height 440 cm

(The beautiful photo below was taken by Helmuts Guigo )


cargo aircraft
An225 Mriya

Courtesy: Helmuts Guigo  Creative Commons


Here is a video of this beautiful aircraft in flight

Courtesy: Simon Lowe

Antonov 124-100

This huge aircraft that comes from the same company as the one above is famous among the oversized freight transport community. The An124-100 Ruslan is a strategic heavy airlift aircraft and the An 124-100 is commercial freighter

  • Maximum Payload : 120,000 Kg
  • Maximum Volume :  800 cubic meters
  • Cargo Door : Width 640cm x Height 440 cm

The modern freight aircraft has inbuilt ceiling cranes that makes loading heavy cargo easy. Volga Dnepr and Antonov Airlines have operated a few sensational airlift with this gigantic aircraft and it is still in service



cargo aircraftCourtesy: steeleman204    Creative Commons Licence


Boeing 747 (various versions)

One of the most popular cargo aircraft and still in service, although not very fuel-efficient. Several airlines still use this and is a blessing for general cargo that is oversized. For cargo that is very long and very high (height limitation: 249 cm)  nose loading is the method used, where the nose is opened (lifted). B747-200. As there are too many variations (versions), only a few specifications will be mentioned here (B747-400F)

  • Maximum Payload : 110,000 Kg
  • Maximum Volume :  675 cubic meters
  • Cargo Door : Width 340cm x Height 312 cm


KLM Cargo Boeing 747-400ERF, PH-CKC, EHAM” by Kok Vermeulen from Rotterdam, The Netherlands – PH-CKCUploaded by Altair78. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


There are a lot more cargo aircraft in service. The ones mentioned here are a few exotic ones (for the public) . Other very common freighters are the MD-11, Boeing 777. The article is meant for the general public and not for the freight forwarding specialists.





References to cargo aircraft

Cargo aircraft – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A cargo aircraft (also known as freight aircraft, freighter, airlifter, or cargo jet) is a fixed-wing aircraft that is designed or converted for the carriage of goods, rather …

Boeing airplanes perform every role in the air cargo market, offering …

Air cargo is an integral part of world business activity and currently generates …. The airplane’s range capability will translate into significant savings for cargo …

Airbus freighter aircraft, cargo aircraft | Airbus, a leading aircraft …

Airbus builds highly capable freighters to fulfill a full range of cargo lift requirements. The A330-200F is the only new-generation cargo aircraft available today …

Letter Of Credit and Air Freight

Letter Of Credit

Without getting stuck in technical jargon, the term Letter of Credit, or L/C as it is fondly called, is a document from  a bank guaranteeing the seller the amount due from the buyer. However, as is to be expected in such transactions, the letter of credit is bound to conditions laid own in the contract. The document is also termed as documentary credit and is almost always mentioned in the first page of the letter as “irrevocable documentary credit” . A very simple outline is given below

  • The seller and buyer decide to sign the deed of sale
  • The seller has demanded the setting up of a L/C.
  • The buyer’s bank agrees to provide the money for the purchase and the draft containing the conditions are given to the seller.
  • The buyer and the seller discuss the details and the final contract of the L/C takes shape and the letter of credit is turned over to the seller.
  • The seller requests the freight forwarder to consign the goods to the party mentioned in the relevant clause in the L/C.
  • The freight forwarder (called carrier) gives the shipper the bill of lading (air way bill) in exchange
  • The seller, in his authority as the shipper, submits the  Bill of Lading (B/L)  to his bank in exchange for the money due.

Banks are Financial Institutions

Banks and freight forwarders speak different languages. This is a point that is, often forgotten by many and the difficulties the freight forwarder face, due to this, is a lot. Financial institutions set up conditions to guarantee the safely of the money they are dealing in and these conditions may or may not fit into the framework of freight forwarding.amendments to letters of credit can be expensive. As conditions can be stringent, it is advisable for the seller to talk to the freight forwarder as well, before the final L/C in place.

Nature Of Goods

In order to avoid ambiguity, the banks may suggest detailed description of the goods and times this description can run into several lines or even a whole paragraph. This will help avoid any misunderstanding about the product in question and will stand in conformity with the deed of sale. Since the seller and the buyer are signatories to the deed, both are committing themselves irrevocably to the product and the conditions attached to it.

However, the freight forwarder will face a difficulty, if the nature and description of the goods become a large body of text. The air way bill (AWB) does not have endless room for such a large paragraph. The real space provided for this is a very narrow column on the right hand side of the AWB (middle) . When this column is full, the remaining part of the text has to be written in the large middle field. If this space is not enough, then the remaining text has to go on a separate sheet of paper, which needs to be attached the original AWB and stamped.

Transshipment Of Goods

The entry “Transshipment : not permitted” in the L/C will land the freight forwarder in a dilemma. Airlines do not operate direct flights to all the airports in the world. Quotations are based on reduced prices and as such the chosen airline will need to offload the cargo at the airport where the transit happens and reload the freight on to the next flight going to the destination. For example if the freight is booked from Frankfurt am Main (FRA) to Shanghai Pu Dong (PVG) on Emirates, the airline will fly the cargo first to Dubai (DXB) and then transfer the goods to the flight leaving Dubai to Pu Dong. Thus, a transshipment becomes inevitable.

Size of Freight

If your freight is more than say 10 tonnes and is oversized, it has to fly on a freighter. Airlines do not operate freighters to all the destinations in the world. Moreover, there are very few Boeing 747 freighters in service (at least not as many as there used to be). If the L/C mentions a direct flight to destination and there are no airlines operating a freighter to there, the situation becomes a dilemma.

Conclusion – Before Finalising A Letter Of Credit

As amendments to the L/C are expensive, it is always a good idea to have the freight forwarder to have a look at the specific conditions, such as

  • Last Date of Shipment
  • Airport of Destination
  • Transshipment
  • Nature and Description of Goods



Air Freight – Help Airlines And Forwarders To Serve You Better

Introduction: Air Freight, Airlines and Freight Forwarders

Air freight points to speed and fast processing. Your cargo needs to fly on time to arrive on time. Freight forwarders and airlines are your partners and you can certainly help them in getting your freight flown on time. A freight forwarder can give better services, when you as his customer helps him out with information and by keeping to certain rules.



air freightCourtesy : Even Westvang





air freightCourtesy: Bernal Saborio



Air Freight Packaging

Strong and sturdy.

If wood is used please make sure it is treated and carry the IPPC logo.

No holes or openings in the packaging.

If pallets are used, strap the freight to the pallet using straps. Try to avoid overhang

Shipper, consignee details to pasted and waterproofed. Airlines do take care of your shipment, but additional care from your end is always good.

Remove any old labels or addresses.

Dangerous Goods are to be packaged and documented only by certified persons!

The freight forwarder is duty bound to run an inspection of the freight and see if there are packaging defects.

Dec 29, 2011 … An international freight forwarder is an agent for the exporter in moving cargo to an overseas destination. These agents are familiar with the …


Dangerous Goods

Use a professional packaging company.

Shipper’s Declaration is to be checked against a checklist before passing it on to a forwarder. Remember: zero tolerance for errors. Safety comes first.

Do not use ISO country codes, write them in the standard way.

Do not forget signature and date. Only certified persons may sign DGD (Dangerous Goods Declaration).

Always give the freight forwarder a minimum of three originals DGD  (some airlines demand three. Standard is two).

Recheck  means you will pay extra fees. So try to be 100% correct.

Dangerous Goods consignments have no confirmed bookings.


Customs and Documents

Complete documentation to be handed over to the freight forwarder.

If you have sent important documents via courier, please inform the freight forwarder

Please give the forwarder with copies of the invoices and other important documents. This will help the forwarder to process the file faster. If  the freight forwarder has to copy all the documents, he is losing time. When the air cargo agent loses time, he cannot tender the consignment to the airline on time.


Pick Up and haulage

Please advise the complete details to the forwarder at least one day in advance

Never forget the following

  • Dimensions: always in Length x Width x Height
  • Please mention the unit (cm or in)
  • Pick up time frame
  • Pick up location
  • Destination
  • Incoterms: Please use the official format. For example, do not mention just FCA. Is it FCA, factory or is it FCA, airport of departure?
  • If you are using DAP as terms, please specify, “excluding customs clearance” or “including customs clearance”
  • Mention “stackable” or “not Stackable” on both the SLI (Shipper’s Letter of Instructions) and on the freight. Airlines cannot guess.

Large freight

  • If consignment is more than 10000 (ten thousand) kilogram, please do not enclose the freight in a crate! Airlines cannot know what is inside (risk)
  • Have the cargo inspected (Please keep the freight neutral! no consignee name to be attached to the freight)
  • Please remember, a wooden flooring will go under the freight. Metal on metal is not permissible on aircraft.
  • No loose materials to be left in the freight.
  • Crane : if cranes are needed, please provide rings and hooks for hoist chains and slings.
  • Pressure Chambers (chambers that control pressure) are usually classified as dangerous goods. Separate them!
  • If the freight is for nose load (Boeing 747) 249 cm is the maximum permissible height.


Helping forwarders and airlines will help get your freight to the destination on time. Small things do matter. Contact details are to be made available on the documentation and  on the freight, if possible. Help airlines and forwarders to move air freight efficiently and faster.

Questions About Air Freight

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 Courtesy : Automotive Zone




C17 Globemaster ( a plane I adore): Courtesy: pilotdynan

References to air cargo and freight forwarders – What is a Freight Forwarder

Dec 29, 2011 … An international freight forwarder is an agent for the exporter in moving cargo to an overseas destination. These agents are familiar with the …

Freight forwarder – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A freight forwarder, forwarder, or forwarding agent, also known as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC), is a person or company that organizes …

IATA – Freight Forwarders

Freight forwarders are an integral part of a sector that successfully transports goods worth $5.3 trillion every year.

Cargo Aircraft in Freight Forwarding

Cargo Aircraft

Air Cargo companies fly their cargo on various aircraft. Even passenger aircraft is used to transport consignments. Freighter planes are made to carry only freight both on the lower and the main deck.

On passenger aeroplanes freight goes into the forward and aft compartments and in the hold, which is right at the back. Doors are provided on the sides with varying amount of clearance, depending on the type of aircraft, Some of the planes have lower door clearances, while some are high enough to take in a maximum of 160 cm in height.

Freighters have  a bigger capacity but limitations as well. MD 11 freighter has a general limitation on height of the consignment. The permissible height in this case on main deck is 244 cm. Boeing 747 (various versions) have a main deck hight clearance of 295 cm. However, the width and the height, too, matters. Although there are many different types of freighter planes, some of them have become famous: Antonov, Ilyushin 76, Boeing 747 (jumbo), MD 11, C17 (military)

An-124 ready” by DtomOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 cargo aircraft

Beluga n3” by Duch.sebOwn work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

cargo aircraft

C17.globemaster.arp“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Boeing 747 freighter planes have a possibility for nose loads, where the nose is opened to allow freight to be loaded into the compartment below the cockpit. The general hight clearance is 249 cm ( obviously in relation to height and width, as well)

Very heavy loads are usually placed towards the centre of the aircraft and this type of loading goes by the name of centre load. Some of the airlines do not accept centre loads.

The freighter floors have embedded rollers to help slide the freight into position. Hook locking facilities are provided along the floor to secure the freight.

Some of the freighters (Antonov) have winches built-in to help lift or lower freight, which is a bilge help to move and position heavy loads in the cabin.

Certain dangerous goods are restricted to freighters. such goods are classified as CAO (Cargo Aircraft Only). Special rules are in place that determine where and how dangerous goods are to be positioned inside the plane.


cargo aircraft  Courtesy : FLYTOBARCELONA

In the above photo you can have a closer look of the inside of a freighter






Courtesy : Air Charter Service








References for air cargo and freighter planes

Air cargo – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Air Cargo is any property carried or to be carried in an aircraft. Air cargo comprises air freight, air express and airmail. Contents. [hide]. 1 Aircraft types; 2 History.

Cargo airline – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cargo airlines (or airfreight carriers, and derivatives of these names) are airlines dedicated to the transport of cargo by air. Some cargo airlines are divisions or …

Alaska Air Cargo Home | Alaska Airlines

Book your next Shipment with Alaska Airlines Cargo. We makes it easy to ship to any of our 80+ destinations in North America with online booking.

Kerala – Athirappally Waterfalls


Athirappally is a name with a magic because it is a gem within a gem called Kerala. Draped in a lush green silk, God’s Own Country, Kerala, the state on the south west coast of India is a paradise on earth. The first state in India with the lowest birth rate, one of the best in communal harmony, the hightest literacy rate, Kerala is blessed with a natural beauty of the highest level. The west is protected by the arabian sea and the east by the mountain ranges called the western ghats. The finest spices, such as cardamom, black pepper, mace, cinnamon etc. come from this blessed paradise.


Thrissur, historically called Thrissivaperur; in English Trichur; is the cultural capital of Kerala. This city is famous for one of the most ancient temples, dedicated to the God Siva, in the state. In the centre of the city, on a small mount, the temple stands in all its majestic glory, facing another renowned temple, Paramekkavu. It is here, the world renouned Thrissur pooram (the festival of Thrissur) takes place.  In front of this temple, on the green meadow, every year, in the month of April 30 caparisoned elephants and more than a hundred percussionists gather, along with more than a hundred thousand spectators, to host this famous temple festival.

Athirappally Waterfalls

Not far from the city of Thrissur, the famous peaceful Chalakkudy River, meandering through lush green areas, passing by tall coconut palms kissing the skies takes on the form of a turbulent one, frothing around huge rocks to finally give us a majestic display of  a 24 meter high waterfall.

Lush green plants and trees lend the landscape a beauty and charm of its own and the area is home to one of the most diverse flora and fauna in the state. Wildlife thrives here in the blissful surroundings. Dubbed as the Niagara Falls of India, Athirappally waterfall is a three pronged one and attracts tourists from far and wide. A visit to Kerala is definitely not complete without a trip to Athirappally. A visit in the monsoon season is especially beautiful, even if the travelling is not so easy. During this season from June to August, the nature dons a very rich green silk, pleasing to the eye. The monsoon rain is an experience by itself.

Athirappally view during Monsoon. viewsindia athirappallyCREATIVE COMMON LICENCE Courtesy: Mehul Antani


Courtesy: Binu S


Courtesy: Jinoy Johnson



Athirappally is not the only majestic experience in this beautiful state. New articles will show you more.



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References to Kerala and Kerala Tourism

Kerala | Travel | The Guardian

Whether you’re looking for inner peace or just want to laze on some of India’s best beaches, you can stay in style without breaking the bank on Kerala’s beautiful …

Kerala – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kerala often referred to as Keralam, is a state in the south-west region of India on the Malabar coast. It was formed on 1 November 1956 as per the States …

Air Freight: Cargo Handling and Terminals

Introduction Air Freight Terminals

This is a very small article and it tries to give an idea of air cargo handling to those who have no idea about the world of air cargo.  A lot of cargo is transported by airlines, and passengers barely notice the cargo that is accompanying them on their flight. Air cargo is present on almost all flights, except the small local flights on tiny aircraft used for airfield to airfield trips.

A world of equipment is available to the cargo section to help the various types of freight to be loaded on to and offloaded from the aircraft. Freight loaded in the compartments below the passenger cabin goes by the name of belly freight. The sections are called forward and aft compartments and the last part is called the hold.


air freightCreative Commons Licence Courtesy: Bill Abbott



Air cargo goes through various stages of handling. The freight forwarders organise the bookings, the labelling, the security screening and the delivery of the freight to the airline. In the airline warehouse the freight goes through package and label checks, documentation, customs clearance, and finally the loading into air freight containers called ULDs (Unit Load Devices)

Loading Freight into an Aircraft. Here a Boeing 747-400 Freighter. Courtesy: Jesper Frank


The Customs office is the last hurdle to cross. Authorities can demand inspection. They can even stop the freight from being flown. In Certain countries, advance information of the freight is to be sent to customs. This is done electronically and is termed AMS or Advance Manifest Service.


The air cargo terminals are busy centres where the job can be very stressful, as  hundreds and thousands of air cargo pieces go through various levels of processing. Wrong labels can mean the freight is routed to a wrong destination and wrong “positioning” (moving the freight to the loading position) can mean the air cargo flies to the wrong country. Air freight terminal staff need to be fast in processing air freight, be it offloading or positioning the various freight ready for further carriage.


Here is a view of Hong Kong Terminal. Courtesy HKTDC



Here is another video of Hong Kong Cargo Terminal. Technically advanced, state of the art terminal. Courtesy  InteliBuild


Air freight has become an inseparable part of aviation and even in small air ports small freight is being handled. Air freight terminals are also a vital link to the economy of a country and a high standard of professionalism is demanded from the terminal staff, as freight needs to processed effectively and very fast.

Questions about Air Freight or Terminals?

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References to air cargo and air cargo terminals

Air Cargo – IATA

Air cargo transports goods worth in excess of $6.4 trillion on an annual basis. This is approximately 35% of world trade by value. The sector itself generates …

The Cobra is the dynamic prime mover of McGrath Industries’ Slave Dolly workstation system. Slave Dollies allow open warehouse floor area to be utilised for ULD loading and storage operations – no need for fixed conveyor equipment. The Cobra transporter provides rapid flexible Slave Dolly movement in a safe efficient manner that requires only the minimum possible aisle width and turning space.

Ship small parcels, packages or large cargo with Air Canada Cargo

Air Canada Cargo’s shipping solutions are tailored to the needs of international shippers and small businesses. Find rates, as well as shipment preparation and …

Air Freight: Dangerous Goods

SUPATH freight Dangerous Goods











Introduction To Dangerous Goods

Dangerous Goods in air cargo shipping (air freight) are  those goods that are hazardous in different ways to the environment and the world in general. Such goods have been classified into 9  classes with some of the classes having sub-divisions as explained below. The rules for the transport of dangerous goods are called DGR meaning Dangerous Goods Regulation and the IATA publishes the updated version every year.

Please note dangerous goods regulations for dangerous goods are different from the rules used in sea freight (ocean freight). Air cargo regulations tend to be extremely strict in comparison.

The following sections will give you a general idea of regulations in place for air cargo. Details about the documentation (shipper’s declaration, MSDS) will be taken up in separate posts.




IATA The Organisation

Here is what IATA says about itself. Text taken from the organisations website

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 250 airlines or 84% of total air traffic. We support many areas of aviation activity and help formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues.


The Classification

  1. Explosives : Explosive substances
  2. Flammable Gases
  3. Flammable Liquids
  4.  Flammable Solids
  5. Oxidising substances
  6. Toxic and Infections Substances
  7. Radioactive Material
  8. Corrosives
  9. Miscellaneous Dangerous goods

The Sub-Divisions

Some of the classes above have sub-divisions and these have their own rules. Details will be given on new posts.

1. Explosives

This division has six sub-divisions. (Courtesy: IMDO)

  1. Division 1.1: substances and articles which have a mass explosion hazard
  2. Division 1.2: substances and articles which have a projection hazard but not a mass explosion hazard
  3. Division 1.3: substances and articles which have a fire hazard and either a minor blast hazard or a minor projection hazard or both, but not a mass explosion hazard
  4. Division 1.4: substances and articles which present no significant hazard
  5. Division 1.5: very insensitive substances which have a mass explosion hazard
  6. Division 1.6: extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosion hazard

2. Gases

  1. Division 2.1 Flammable
  2. Division 2.2 Non-Flammable, non-toxic
  3. Division 2.3 Toxic

3. Flammable Solids

  1. Division 4.1 Flammable solids, self-reactive substances and solid  desensitised explosives
  2. Division 4.2 Substances liable to spontaneous combustion
  3. Division 4.3 Substances, which emit flammable gases when in contact with water

4.  Oxidising substances and organic peroxides

  1. Division 5.1 Oxidising substances
  2. Division 5.2 Organic Peroxides


5.  Toxic And Infectious Substances

Division 6.1 Toxic substances

Division 6.2 Infectious substances


Below is a video about class 1, beautifully presented.




Another informative video



6.  Conclusion

This post gave you a very compact overview of what the freight forwarders refer to as DGR. The abbreviation actually stands for Dangerous Goods Regulations. Companies that store dangerous goods must abide by regulations in place, failing which, action can be taken against them. Safety first is the motto.

Further posts will continue this discussion.


7. Questions?

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References for air cargo (air freight)


Air Cargo – IATA

Air cargo transports goods worth in excess of $6.4 trillion on an annual basis. This is approximately 35% of world trade by value. The sector itself generates …

World Air Cargo Forecast – Boeing

The Boeing Company issues the biennial World Air Cargo Forecast (WACF) to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date overview of the air cargo industry.


Air Cargo – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

John F. Kennedy International. A photo of being loaded. JFK is the region’s biggest and busiest airport for international air cargo, offering a full range of service …

Air Freight : Do It Right



Air Freight is expensive and there should be no compromise on quality. You value your client and the your product. The transport of your valuable product should meet the same quality standards. The point here is NOT the ISO quality benchmarks, on the contrary practical points that are utilised to move the freight. The importance here is not of getting the freight to the client but HOW will it get there. SUPATH Air Freight tries to give you as much information as possible and all from reality.

Flow of Information

In the unbroken span of thirteen years in air freight, I can say without doubt that one of the major points that was ignored was the flow of information. Right from the customised declaration to the final processing of the goods at the airport of arrival, the key role is played by information.

Telephone, email and fax (pity it is still being used!) are all vital lines. VOIP is, unfortunately, not a favourite choice. One of the reasons quoted is that of security.


Placing an order does not mean the end of the operations process. The seller might have questions, the buyer might have enquiries. Changes might be needed in the order. Email is, no doubt, the easiest way to communicate them. However, the addressee may be facing computer problems such as server failure, crashes, non-availability of lines etc. Fax comes handy, because a transmission failure will be received immediately. A short telephone call will help. Motto: Keep the lines open. Communication must be possible.


Abide by the rules of packaging (ISPM 15, IPPC logo). Does the country of destination demand a Non-Wood Packing Declaration? or a Fumigation Certificate? If recycled packaging is used, remove old barcode and air freight labels! If cartons are being used, make sure they are sturdy. All holes and cracks must be secured. Any opening will be classified as “Packaging Prone to Manipulation” leading to rejection of freight or repackaging measures. This means not only cost but also time lost.

Shipper and Consignee addresses have to be clearly mentioned on the packaging. Avoid small print. Warehouse staff have very less time. Enough room should be available for airfreight labels. If documents are being attached to the outside of the consignment, the affixing must be quite sturdy and resistant to being ripped off. Shipments are placed as close together as possible to save  space and moving the freight might result in documents being lost


First question: Does the country of destination stipulate that the original documents accompany the goods? If yes ; please check the regulations; please do not ignore it. Ignoring that will create extreme difficulties for your client.

Send high quality scanned documents via email or even by FTP. Include ALL the documents


Shipper : make sure the consignment leaves your warehouse with a clean receipt. No damage receipt should be maintained.

Consignee: make sure the content received is free from any visible damage

If, during delivery, freight shows signs of damage, document it (photographs with date and time), the air way bill number should be visible on the photos (all freight pieces will have air freight labels attached).


NEVER forget! The driver picking up or delivering the goods must be made to sign a receipt. That should include the vehicle registration, the printed name of the driver, the delivery company, the delivery / pick up time and date.

Claims and Intend to Claim

Do not ask the shipper to table a claim immediately after receiving the freight. A freight with visible damage will NOT be accepted by any airline for transportation. A damage can occur in the warehouse of the airline or at the airport of destination. Send a letter of liability to the freight forwarder that delivered the goods. The lorry company is not the company to be held liable by you. The freight forwarder has sub-contracted the delivery. So the letter of claim should be addressed to the freight forwarder who ordered the delivery of the goods.


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Air Freight: What You Need To Know

International Air Freight Consultant


Air freight mode of transport is fast but expensive but in a fast-moving world  there is no other faster mode of transport . Businesses must be fast in getting their freight to their clients. Unless sea freight has been mentioned explicitly air freight remains the popular mode of transport in moving small to medium freight. Large freight is shipped by air, when an emergency arises. As air freight is expensive, attention is to be paid to the details and the planning should be fast and correct. Knowledge is power and armed with the right information, a company can keep the cost under control. SUPATH brings you practical suggestions that you can use, and  knowledge that has been tested


Cost Involved : Mandatory Charges

The following charges will definitely be an inseparable part of air freight. There are charges that cannot be listed by SUPATH because the charges vary from country to country and from company to company.

  • Pick up – from the shipper’s place to the freight forwarder or to the airport warehouse
  • Haulage – the lorry service to the airport of departure
  • Handling – air way bill, labelling, warehouse checking, customs formalities
  • air freight rate – based on chargeable weight (gross weight or volume weight: whichever is higher)
  • Fuel Surcharge : usually charged on gross weight. Of late most of the airlines charge this on chargeable weight
  • Risk Surcharge: also called security surcharge. charging mode similar to Fuel Surcharge
  • AMS Fee : Automated Manifest Service Fee: Airlines need to transfer air way bill data to customs authorities. Electronic transfer
  • Warehouse Charges: demurrage charges! ask for tariff. There is no general tariff. Each country and each airport of destination has its own listing! SUPATH can never warn you enough.  Delay could mean a shocking invoice!

Costs Involved : Possible Charges

  • Dangerous Goods Fee : only applicable to hazardous goods (IATA regulation)
  • Development Fee : only if the airport of destination lists this (Canada does)
  • Broker Transfer Fee : depends on who does the brokerage. Applicable if the de-consolidator and the broker doing the customs clearance is not the same company.
  • Crane  or Forklift charges
  • Insurance : If you want to insure the freight, you need to cover it before the pick up of the freight

Documents involved

  • Commercial Invoice(s)
  • Packing Lists (freight to India: if you have  more than one piece please include a packing list)
  • Delivery Note : some companies issue these. Not needed for customs clearance
  • Pro-forma Invoice : NOT accepted by customs in India for clearance.
  • Certificate of Origin : needed in countries that have Agreement on Preferential Tariffs ( goods from India to Europe should carry Certificate of Origin; also called Form A; so that the importer can get reduction on duties. Original certificate is to be tabled.
  • Certificate of Conformity : usually for electronic and electrical goods. Also applicable for telecommunication equipment in certain countries
  • Export Permit : In Europe, if the goods for export fall in of the categories of dual use listed in the appendices of the EC regulation, an export permit in original is mandatory
  • Export declaration : varies from country to country. In India the export clearance takes time and a customs inspection may take place.
  • Customs Bond : in the US, either a single entry bond or a continuous bond is mandatory
  • ATA Carnet : needed only for exhibitions. Not all countries are parties to the ATA Carnet contract.
  • Fumigation Certificate or Non-Wood Packing Declaration may be required by the country of destination
  • IEC : (Import Export Code) : needed by importers in India along with the PAN (Permanent Account Number)


Check the invoices for mistakes (spelling mistakes in names can cost money: e. g. South American destinations)! Keep contact lines open: time is money

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