Air Freight : Large Machinery

air freight


Exporting a large machine (technically known as heavy engineering goods) by air freight is not an impossible task. However, the shipper (also known as consignor) will be at an advantage, if  preparations have been made in advance, especially those abroad.

Keep It Simple

Air freight is expensive  but fast and effective. Optimise the planning to save time and avoid confusion. Prioritise the tasks and draw up a list of work to be done. Below is a list of items, which is, however, not complete but helpful.


Timing is the key to almost everything, when it comes to air freight.

Coordination Abroad

Assign an employee to co-ordinate with the consignee about

  • arranging brokerage
  • If exporting to the US: Bond (continuous bond available? If not, arrange for a Single Entry Bond
  • Equipment needed for receiving goods : heavy-duty forklift needed? Is a ramp available? Opening times.
  • Contact persons: names, telephone numbers (arrange for alternative numbers), email, fax, hotline etc

Co-ordination  Local

  • Commercial invoices (at least three copies. Please add an extra copy for the freight forwarder)
  • Packing lists
  • Customs documentation (local)
  • Any special documentation required for the country importing your goods? (Certificate of Conformity, Country of Origin, Legalised Invoice). Get a confirmation from the consignee about what will be required.


  • If consignment is 10 tonnes or more, do NOT package without consulting the airline.
  • If wood is used in packaging , do have a look at the packing article.
  • If a crane is needed, have hooks been provided? protection sleeves for chains? or padding to avoid damage to the machine surface while handling.
  • Pressure chambers (if any) removed? (pressure chambers may be classified as dangerous goods).
  • Pick up: Is a gantry crane available? Is an external crane service needed?
  • Dimensions : Length x Width x Height with unit of measure.
  • Weight: total gross weight of the goods “ready for carriage”. It is good to make the nett weight of the freight available to the airline.
  • Tie-down points are to be made available to the airline. Tie-down points : slots/rings/hooks to secure the freight to the air freight pallet.
  • Pre-export Check

Airline staff would like to inspect the machine before tabling a quotation. Once the airline contract is in place, a loadmaster will inspect the goods and advise, if anything special needs to be done. It is important that, by this time,  the consignee is ready for the import (documents are in place, broker is informed, equipment ordered etc.).

Documents are to be passed on in advance (always better to send them in PDF format).

Resources Centre

Anybody needing help or advice to plan air freight, please get in touch using the contact form below. However, consultation with your freight forwarder/air cargo agent cannot be stressed enough. 


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