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IATA hopes to cut the amount of damage to aircraft caused by mishandling of cargo containers through a new safety campaign.
Announced at the 10th World Cargo Symposium in Berlin, the campaign will seek to alert users to the most common types of safety risks and ground accidents to aircraft caused by unit load devices (ULDs), or cargo pallets.
“The number one cause of aircraft damage from ground loading equipment is from mishandled ULDs,” IATA global head of cargo Glyn Hughes said.
“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% of these costs could be saved through correct handling.”
Through raising awareness of the need for careful handling of ULDs across all touch points, the campaign seeks to minimize 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 $264 million annually through promoting better ULD handling.
Hughes pointed out that ULDs are also essential to flight safety, as correct onboard loading is critical to ensuring a safe and balanced aircraft load.
However, because ULDs are the only aircraft parts to leave control of the airline and return after passing through many “unregulated” hands—parties not subject to airworthiness requirements—the ULD handling process is open to vulnerability. This makes it essential for everyone handling ULDs to be properly trained and also have a wider understanding of the impact of ULD mishandling.
The IATA ULD Safety Campaign will target all stakeholders in the ULD value chain from ground operations staff through to regulators.
The campaign will be rolled out across the industry throughout 2016 in parallel with the ULD Regulations (ULDR), a single set of regulatory requirements and industry standards applicable to overall ULD operations developed by IATA.
“Correct handling of ULDs is not only essential for safety on the ramp and in the air, it is all about pursuing greater service quality for air cargo’s customers,” Hughes added. “Working across the industry to raise awareness and change behavior, this campaign is a part of our broader industry transformation agenda of improving the value proposition of air cargo.”