The diminishing market for main deck freighters

At the IATA Cargo symposium last month Fred Smith laid it on the line – there is currently over-capacity in the market, the Industry is undergoing what he described as a profound transformation and he warned that the good old days will not return.

This message was supported by IATA that warned its members that the air freight portion of the pie is continuing to shrink and air freight is losing market share to other modes of transport. There needs to be significant improvements in execution and delivery of the air freight offer – transaction costs are too high and  little improved since the 1950’s in terms of a door-to-door transaction.

What is the impact for the freighter business – new builds and conversions? Old fuel inefficient platforms are out and what Fred Smith described as ‘low cost belly space’ is in. Airline cargo managers are moving out of main deck freighters (IAG, JAL, United, American, Delta to name a few) and befriending their passenger colleagues for space below the main deck to accommodate their cargo which they can sell at rates and profit margins not dreamed of before.

The main impact will be felt in the Mid-Size and Large freighter segments (the all wide-body territory) where Airbus and Boeing have and are planning to make significant investments in new conversion programs to meet their forecast market demand in these segments – the Airbus forecast calls for over 100 new build and converted aircraft required in the wide-body segment per year for the next 20 years

  Mid-Size>40t <80T Large>85 Total
Airbus: Conversions 824 430 1,254
Airbus: New Build 413 458    871
Total 1,237 888 2,125

In light of the fact that there were actually minus 8 orders received for new build wide-body freighters in 2013 and there were no wide-body conversion orders received in 2013, how realistic are these forecasts? One poor year in terms of order intake does not justify re-calibration of forecasts based on redeliveries. Nevertheless taking into account Fred Smith’s warnings, the alarm bells should  probably be ringing


New Build Freighters 747-8F 777F 767F A330F Total
2013 Ordered 6 9 2 6 23
2013 Cancelled 5 8 0 18 31
Net Orders 1 1 2 -12 -8

The demise of the 747 freighter fleet in 2013 has demonstrated how quickly sentiment can now change for a type in the market. The 2013 Industry consensus forecast was that there was still opportunities for more 747 freighter conversions and overall some 90 747

freighters would be retired in the next 20 years. Today, just one year into the 20 year forecast, some 80 747 freighters are either parked or identified for retirement with a limited outlook of returning to service.

Looking forward, the take up of freighters will mean lower lease rates and shorter lease term commitments for investors making for an environment where the appetite for investment in conversions will be limited around scenarios where the investment in a conversion is no more than the cost of a typical interior retrofit cost that would be incurred by lessors in a lease transaction (~$5m) – monthly lease rentals for mid-size conversions in the order of $350,000/mo will in future be the exception not the rule ~ $250,000/mo more the norm.

So what is in the pipeline in the Mid and Large market segments? No more new-build freighter products and no conversions in the Large segment where currently the 747-400 conversion programs are the only conversion programs in this segment. Boeing will now dominate this segment with their new builds (777F and -8F) for the next 20 years, which leaves the ‘mid-size’ segment as the only space there will be new developments. Here there are currently three new conversion programs on the drawing board competing for what is becoming an uncertain market outlook:

  • Boeing with a 777-200ER conversion program, which recently was promoted by Boeing as the saviour to fill the forecast 777 passenger production line gap in the cross over to the 777X production. The 777-200ER is a program which Boeing has been promoting since 2006 but never actually launched. If developed the resultant freighter will be a 82T payload platform – not a competitor to the 777F. In fact it will be targeting a segment demanding good economics on low utilisation, low cost feeder operations – not a sector that is likely to support high priced conversion solutions that Boeing is currently testing the market reaction on (~$35m for a conversion).
  • Airbus (ST Aero and EFW) developing an A330 P2F conversion initially for the -300 and later the -200 series. Airbus announced this program to great fanfare in May 2012 predicting a market potential for some 900 conversions. Two years on its difficult to tell if the program is still on or heading for a similar demise as befell the Airbus A320 P2F conversion program some years ago – certainly the potential is under threat if the ST Aero/EFW consortium cannot deliver a conversion solution at the right price.
  • LCF Conversions: the new entrant from the Eolia Group (developers of conventional P2F solutions). The LCF solution offers an alternative to the conventional passenger-to-freighter (P2F) solution that has to date supported the conversion market. The LCF conversion makes use of the existing large freight doors installed in the lower holds of the third generation widebody passenger aircraft and the LCF patented lift systems installed in the lower holds enable freight to be moved between the Lower and Main decks. Today 60% of air freight is carried in the Lower Hold (by 2020 some 70% is forecast to be). The LCF logic is that 60% of freight is already configured to be accommodated in the Lower Hold – 90% could be so why not adapt conversion design, make use of the freighter payload capability that is already built into the passenger airframe and save cost?

The LCF solution is reversible, significantly reduces the program development cost (by a factor of 10) and the ongoing conversion cost (by at least two thirds). LCF is a more attractive and practical investment proposition than conventional conversion programs. Conversion to LCF configuration does not change any of the certified limits of the donor airframe and avoids the expense of undertaking invasive and irreversible modifications on passenger airframes that were not designed for such a role-change.

Unlike a conventional P2F conversion that adds weight to the aircraft, an LCF conversion removes weight from the passenger aircraft resulting in payload / range performance at least as good as the passenger aircraft. The Eolia Group claim that in all cases the LCF product can match or better the payload and/or range where there are (or are anticipated to be) competing freighter conversion programs on offer. LCF brings on stream solutions for fleets (for instance the A340 and the 777-200 fleets) where there are no proposals by the OEMs to develop alternative-use solutions beyond the passenger-only configurations.

The LCF conversion, although based primarily on converting the Main Deck of the aircraft from passenger to freighter configuration, can also be adapted for other bespoke applications on the Main Deck ranging from simplified access (for access of oversize loads/fittings onto the Main Deck) to combi/quick change accommodation.

The LCF concept appears to be more flexible and less capital intensive that the conventional conversion programs. This is a non-intrusive, low capital cost approach to wide body conversions and deserves consideration especially when looking ahead to the fourth generation (787 and A350) wide body composite airframes as it’s very unlikely cutting large main deck freight doors in old passenger composite airframes will make economic sense and a different modus operendi more akin to the LCF approach is likely to be adopted.

The message for lessors and owners is less dedicated freighter lift is required (the forecasts could be wrong), the freight operators have less revenue available for monthly lease rentals and the need for flexibility to adapt to changing market demand means shorter lease commitments.

Traditionally owners have looked to the conversion market for some potential life post passenger operations – some 20% of wide-body passenger fleets have been born-again as converted freighted freighters. The take up of such large a proportion of passenger fleets for conversion are unlikely but the take up will be reduced further if the conversion houses (led by Airbus and Boeing) cannot develop highly competitive conversion solutions for installation in the wide-body donor airframes (akin to the price of a passenger reconfiguration at lease end) then the option of conversion life-line will not be there, part-out on retirement from passenger operations will be the only option.

This is a Guest Column by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous.

48 Comments on “The diminishing market for main deck freighters

  1. The author is very enthousiast on the LCF option. I sawit some time ago and it indeed seems a practicle concept.

    I’m not so convinced the 747F fleets will be gone. A cheap converted 100t high volume load, making a fuel stop halfway at a cargo hub and flying to the end destination on non slot restricted times and places remains hard to beat. Looking at here and now, shouldn’t exclude the effects of the long GFC we are hopefully exiting now.

    Anyway Boeing will remain King of the hill of cargo land. A cold and rocky hill though..

  2. Malaysia Airlines just announced that is ceasing all the operations (cargo and passengers ) from USA.
    (source Flying Typers: Cargo magazine on line.)

      • here is the communication:
        Dear Air Transportation Partner:

        We regret to inform you that Malaysia Airlines and its cargo arm, MASKargo, will close its four times weekly service from Los Angeles effective April 30, 2014.
        Whilst Malaysia Airlines has a long history in Los Angeles, this route is no longer economically viable.
        The factors contributing to this negative situation today include over capacity and competition resulting in lower yields, high cost of operating the B777 aircraft and pressure from continued increases in fuel costs.
        These are adding further pressure to the expenses of Malaysia Airlines group, which we are continuously evaluating.
        Malaysia Airlines will continue to monitor the market conditions and consider again offering service when circumstances seem more favorable.
        On behalf of Malaysia Airlines and my staff I want to express our Appreciation for your Support over the years!
        Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

        Julie Johansson
        Cargo Manager North America

  3. We analyse/resolve the airfreight situation as follows :

    1. Modal Change from Shipping [TEU/FEU moved by Triple E] —-> Airfreighting[#ULD moved by #aircraft] is an on-going fact, slowly accelerating
    2. the bulk of the world’s containerized cargo (98 % or 10 trillion FTK) moves in standard TEU/FEU, only 2 % or 200 billion FTK moves by air, in some type ULD; ergo, Modal Change has GREAT POTENTIAL !
    3. excellence in Logistics is about adapting the vector to the container normative, not the other way around, whence the warning : NB ! ULDs are not Forwarders’ choice but an Airfreighter-imposed normative … factually, ULDs are holding back, slowing down Modal Change !
    4. ICAO-approved AGA are currently available @ 11.3/1.0/10.3 metric tonnes, box-builders are improving this to 12.9/0.9/12.0 or even 16.1/1.1/15.0 m.tonnes
    5. current dedicated airfreight vectors hardly accept AGA (744F or Ruslan are exceptions but operations are awkward/inefficient/costly)

    Based on the foregoing, we give the following “instant picture 2014” of the dedicated airfreighting market challenges :

    – belly-freight FTK price offerings on-board WB paxliners are computed based on MARGINAL COSTING RULES : there is no way you can compete flying some “dedicated airfreighters” = WB paxliner-F or -P2F
    – belly-freight FTK volume offerings on-board WB paxliners grow at the pace of the growth rate of the world’s fleet of WB paxliners, which is strong (thank you, Dubai’13 ! and thank you, Airbus & Boeing !)
    – until the growth of market demand for airfreight catches up with/SURPASSES the foregoing growth rate of belly-freight volumes onboard WB paxliners, the business of “Dedicated Airfreighters” will stagnate or keep slowing down ?

    UNLESS (this is an Apology of the – concept – AGA-liner or “UltraFreighter” strategy alternative) :

    – the AGA-liner – a new tool for airfreighting – is developed, accepting AGA for door2door shipper-AGAliner-destinatary consignment service, to be sold to Forwarders of International Shipping
    – such new tool to competitively UNDERCUT marginal-costed FTK pricing based upon cost-effective engineering/design ; the availability of the AGA-liner will accelerate Modal Change
    – the transport chain is trailer/AGA-liner/trailer; empty AGA are stackable (full AGA are not !) or dismountable into kit for transport back to origin in high-top FEU, by Triple E

    (concept) UltraFreighter Specifications (tentative, for discussion) :

    Payload : 26 AGA = 20’ x 8’ x 8’ = 350 m.tonnes/MTOW 740 m.tonnes/OWE 228 m.tonnes/fuel 162 m.tonnes ?
    Powerplants : RR UltraFan x 4 TBC thrustclass 108-115 klbf ? Range tbd, pending ?
    Fuselage cross-section : twice x (three-quarter) A359-based bi-valved 333” trim-to-trim interior Blended Wing Body ?
    Wing design : twice A350-1000 wing-based Prandtl “BWB“ (Best Wing Box) ?
    MainDeck Openings (study tbc) : tail-ramp ? + swing-nose ? vs dorsal cargo door for vertical loading/unloading by shipping-type AGA-crane ? vs standard side-doors ?
    Underbelly hatch doors : 2 fwd + 2 aft … ?
    Latching/Latching controls : fully automatic z+y; x-latching manual/visually controlled ?
    Airport TAT (full in/full out) : target 140 minutes tbc, all doors closed ?
    TO/L performance : no worse than A351 ?
    PCN : no worse than A351 ?
    EIS : 2024, based on a project lead-time of nine calendar years + 15 months avant-projet studies + customer fact-finding exchanges ?
    (NB : all concept features are INDICATIVE, subject to prior review/confirmation)

    • ‘AGA’ is ICAO’s coded designator for ‘TEU’ whenever applied in airfreighting. Staying alive/prospering as a ‘dedicated’ operator in the airfreighting business equates to : forget all the paxliner-Fs, forget all the paxliner-P2Fs … and we may add : forget all the paxliner-LCFs, these last ones we can IMHO put in the same scrapbox with the two first ones – only the truly ad hoc UltraFreighter resolutely designed for Modal Change can circumvent/overcome the current blocking/destructive handgrip of the WB belly-freighters onto the airfreighting business, ie what you really need is a NEW specialised tool, with production costs CHEAPER per FTK than belly-freight … keesje, Bricktop, Observer : what else in my post was GL/HF or LMAO ?

      • “what else in my post was GL/HF or LMAO ?”

        Frequent traveller, nothing. An interesting post, more readers could enjoy / discuss your business insights and ideas if the assumption that everyone does understand the terminology is adjusted. Otherwise it will be a monologue.

      • Nothing personal – you’re clearly knowledgeable on the subject, but when you slip into jargon and acronyms it’s harder for a relative layman like me to understand, and your point is lost.

        • ULD = Universal Loading Device
          TEU = Twentyfoot Equivalent Unit
          PCN = Pavement Classification Number
          TAT = Turn-Around Time
          TO/L = Take-Off & Landing
          MTOW = Maximum Take-Off Weight
          FTK = Freight Tonne-Kilometer
          tbd, tbc = to be defined, confirmed
          klbf = 1,000 pounds of (jet engine) thrust

          (IMHO, nothing ‘exotic’ in the foregoing ?)

    • @Strato

      Perhaps, you did not read the above piece form leehamnrews?

      All the “net” Boeing freighter offering’s (748F, 777F & 767F) were positive for the year!

      The numbers are only Negative when you include the Airbus offerings… 😉

      • True – but if you look at the 747-8F order numbers, you get a single net order for last year. So based on this and the analysis from Scott’s anonymous contributor above, Strato’s comment that it “Seems freighter market will not save the 747-8.” does have some merit, I think.

  4. The 747 LCF has some significant limitations vs a dedicated 747 freighter conversion –

    – main deck ULD’s are limited to five ft high and 10 ft long; with a side door, a freighter conversion’s main deck ULD’s could be 8 ft or even 10 ft [contoured] high. They could also be up to 20 ft long.

    – although the LCF is theoretically reversible, history shows that once an airplane is used for cargo it tends to stay that way. examples being the 13 747-200 convertibles; the few survivors are now dedicated freighters. The LCF would be stuck with the weight of windows, bins, ceilings, plus passenger AC and electrical systems. If not protected, the existing sidewalls would probably be irreversibly damaged by cargo modules.

    – Zero fuel weight will be limited to the passenger airplane value – for a 747-400 that will be 535,000 lbs vs the conversion’s 610,000 lbs. That’s 75,000 lbs of max payload revenue left on the ramp.

    – the main deck floors will not be reinforced, so the main deck running loads will be limited to the passenger airplane’s values vs the conversion’s higher loads.

    – turnaround time – all the LCF cargo goes in the lower lobe doors, then up to the main deck where it is transferred on a non-powered system. Once the main deck is set only then can the lower lobe be loaded. Reverse the process on arrival. A conversion can load and unload the main deck and lower lobes simultaneously and independently using powered cargo systems on both levels

    Sure the LCF is cheap, but it’s not a bargain. You get what you pay for.

  5. COMBI, do remember this word of the past?
    Do recall the configuration of the first ATR 42 with the cargo bay between the pilots and the cabin? Futuristic.. after all nowadays the passengers bring their luggage in the cabin (we know why) therefore the airworthy Truck underneath has spare room for paying cargo correct? The Freighter planes demise trend could be reversed perhaps if cargo operators will find the way to offer discounted passenger service.

  6. I’m just throwing this out there but I looked up the financials of the 3 top cargo ship building companies and they seem to be doing great. The ships that Daewoo, Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyandai Heavy Industries and the biggest in the world and the size of them keep growing. Putting freight on a ship that is not time sensitive or perishable and get TONS of it over to it’s final destination at a cheaper price seems like a winner to me. Think. How much time and aircraft would you need in order to ship the same amount of cargo a container ship would normally carry?

    • You’ve certainly put your finger on where the shoe hurts … these vessels lift 15,000 or so boxes per shipment … wherefrom my point is : if you are a Logistician yourself and if your agenda is to divert fractions of those millions of boxes away from Shipping over to Airfreighting, where do you start ? The answer is : you start talking to Shipping people and their Forwarders themselves … now then the first thing you’ll find out is that all these people live in their own world full of TEU/FEU boxes, so LESSON Nº 1 is ‘start talking shipping jargon yourself’ = forget your own ‘ULD’ : the new ‘name of the game’ is the AGA ! … CQFD (this last one is for keesje)

      • Interesting, Uwe : ‘Modal Change’ is actually happening, as is demonstrated here. Railways operators are grabbing their catch. The deal is 15 days vs 32 days … One single shipper fills 35 containers once a week in both directions (BMW autoparts). Here the word ‘container’ means TEU, which is the wonderchild of international logistics. You want to start playing in the schoolyard with East-West bigscale Forwarders ? Get yourself a couple of thousand AGA to throw in, tell the Forwarders to fill them up with consignments and you’ll get them off west to destinatary in less than 72 hours and you’re in business … but don’t come messing around with # ‘ULD’ …

    • Cargos on ship’s move fast enough these days. Maersk’s newest, biggest vsls (EEE class) are slower than the last biggest class (E class) as fuel efficiency now outweighs the need for speed on ship’s. Remember also that the time an article takes from door to door is not regulated so much by the speed of transport but by the speed of handling and customs, a cargo from US to Europe might take 4-5 days by air, by see it takes a week to cross the Atlantic but it is already in a road truck able container when it arrives, time door to door 10-12 days. It has to be something extremely expensive for one weeks difference to be worth while. I see a future for airfreight as belly cargo or occasional special, urgent, oversize (for belly cargo) cargos. The package might find belly cargo unusable as well unless they change their routing to fit airline schedules, but if they do that then the freighter market is in big trouble.

  7. The LCF conversion has merits and disadvantages.

    Let’s look at capability first: the conversion of a normal civil aircraft includes three to four major items:
    – addition of a large main deck cargo door
    – addition of a cargo floor designed for higher loads and with a cargo handling system
    – addition of a safety barrier feature between main deck and cargo hold
    – adaption of fire suppression system
    The LCF system actually only removes the top one. From a weight perspective the internal lift might have some benefits when compared to the large cargo door.

    On the capability side the LCF clearly loses against the main deck door: turnaround takes longer, size of cargo is strictly limited. The airline will have a rather inflexible platform. Air cargo – at least where dedicated freighters are used – rely on high flexibility and/or short turnaround (think of FedEx, UPS).

    Therefore a would consider LCF a solution for a very small part of the market.

    • With a regular freighter you are packing 2/3 of payload to other ULD dimension than for belly cargo. With the majority of cargo now going in the belly ( and on Pax frames ) having only one ULD constraint type could be a boon in freight transfer / forwarding.

    • I am not an expert, but I think the article implies you would only load the main deck when you need the volume. On average the belly carries the bulk of the load, minimizing lift usage as well as average turnaround times. It’s possible also that heavier containers are put in the belly, so the main deck doesn’t need strengthening. LCF would have relatively minor constraints on real world loads, compared with PCF, but the money saved on conversion costs will be in the bank.

  8. The incognito Guest Speaker here is quoting 20-year Freighter Market Forecasts (Newbuilds + P2F or LCF Conversions) allegedly sourced from Airbus (Andreas Hermann ?). lt should be noted that the purpose of “GMF-Freighter Aircraft” as a management tool is turned inwards to influence Shareholders + Investors, not outwards to influence Buyers @ operators. Meanwhile, higher strategy spheres @ Airbus collude to represent (artificially ‘cooking’) the GMF numbers for Freighters, intentionally DISREGARDING MODAL CHANGE because (1) FULLY AWARE (’cause fully briefed !) that any type WBpaxliner-F is not the correct answer, but (2) being in the process of tending to other evermore “pressing & important” matters, (3) Airbus is not prepared to take – right now – the Freighter Bull by the Horns … whence (4) the market potential of air freight is deliberately PLAYED DOWN, not to convey the flair to Boeing market bloodhounds that ‘something’ beyond A330-200F could be in the air … the underlying unspoken twist to the Airbus ‘official’ “fifth wheel of the car” airfreighter policy being that 787F, 747-8F, 777F and/or 767F are costly strategy errors … never mind, let Boeing play that line, it will take them nowhere … besides, we have our own A332F safely on display to remove any doubts by unbelievers …

    • I think Airbus is playing low profile in the F market. It has been a bloodbath so why join in. Derivatives will be offered in terms of A332F NEO and A333F NEO and conversions when the market is there. Or not.

      It hurts the eyes seeing all these fine 747-400s being parked without much chance of a second live. And the numbers will grow rapidly..

      A good thing (looking back) of the A380 CAD Syst / wiring / 2 years delay is Airbus put the A380 on the back burner, preventing A380Fs joining 747Fs in a fight for survival.

      • Yes, keesje : A380F was planned (and actually registered 31 pre-launch orders) then it was killed as inopportune (Power-8 spin-off = priority delivery to passenger airlines after the 30-months’ delay) but also as inadequate or inefficient (eg : payload/MTOW ratio = 0.27, against 0.31 for 744F) specially after various meetings with Logisticians (whereof Shipping people) who pin-pointed Upper Main Deck to be impractical/without purpose/dead weight …

        • A380F :: 149t / 590t = 0.253
          748F :: 134t / 448t = 0.299
          744F :: 112.6t / 396t = 0.284
          744ERF :: 112.6t / 412t = 0.273
          777F :: 103t / 347t = 0.296
          A332F :: 70t / 233t = 0.300
          Then the MTOW/Payload fraction isn’t really informative.
          forex the 744 takes significantly more fuel per t than newer types.

        • The second shortfall (in the views of shipping people) of A380F in particular (but of most types Paxliner(AorB)-F in general) is the lower than warranted overall payload density, plus the insufficient positional payload density tolerances. The first is calculated as Max Payload/overall Hull Volume, whereas the second is derived per each ULD position as ULD Max Gross Weight/ULD Volume … Shippers are seeking more flexible positional densities – of eg up to d = 0.45 or – advantageously – a little beyond, whereas few of the current Airfreighters accept freights denser than d = 0.30 … E.g. for the AGA (# 33 m3) d = 0.45 means MGW = 15 t …

          • I have some doubts that with computerized loading plans this is still an issue.
            Final load distribution _and_ (un)loading progress for container shipping is
            rather involved but well established.
            ( I could expect problems in manual loading by a sparsely qualified workforce.
            same conundrum as in bulk loading versus containerized loading )

      • IMO the A380 is giving the 747F a tick of the tail afterall by pushing good 747-400 into the desert (SQ, QF, BA, LH, AF, KA, MH, ) making converted 744s so cheap it becomes hard to make good margins on new 747F (8Fs).

        What I have’t seen mentioned above is the relative success of sea/air freight, cutting “shipping” times in half for a costs typically 30-40% lower then air freight.. E.g. shipped to Dubai and flown to end destinations.

        • Persian Gulf cross-roads feature freight-trimmed airports combined with containervessel transboarding platforms, allowing easy intermodality capitalizing upon doing away with the Suez Canal time and cost bottleneck. Today the Gulf Trio are surfing high on their locational advantage. But IMHO, a decade from now, either the venue of an UltraFreighter will toll the bell to Gulf belly-freight hi-surfing, or Gulf airlines will themselves acquire sufficient (and early up) UltraFreighter capacity to defend their position as airfreighting Leaders, together with THY. West-European retaliation to Middle-East/Gulf attempts at airfreight imperialism could involve new dedicated airfreight interlining hubs in Central Europe (Ukraine, …) using preferably UltraFreighters for LongHaul operations combined with fleets of “AGA feeders”, with eg 8-12 AGA capability (resp. eg 4-6 AGA capability) for hub-spoke operations and final delivery/initial pick-up … the latter eg belugatized A330F (resp. A320F) models ?

  9. Not sure of the precise impact but in Europe (even including backward Britain) there has been a steady acceleration in electrifying rail roads. And a side effect of the construction of the largely passenger only high speed (ie 300-400 kph) railways has been:
    – these are used in the off-peaks for a few high speed high value freight trains
    – the reduced load on the often parallel but also electrified railways has allowed priority freights to be timetabled beside passenger trains.

    All this of course in addition to the steady increase in rail electrified container trains – such as the UK building ‘spines’ of large container capable lines (the UK loading gauge previously gave both trucks and planes and edge in this) across the country from the container ports of Southampton, Felixstowe and Thames Estuary.

    Does not look good for air freight.

    • If the Destinatary is equipped to accept direct delivery of TEU by rail, then ship-to-train transbordage in some port/estuary is not a problem. otherwise the “normal” logistic chain is trailer/LongDistanceModalChoice/trailer, where the intermediate chainlink is EITHER TripleE OR LD Train OR Airfreighter, exclusive of each other. Logisticians hate transbordages, but even more : restowing from TEU —> ULD or vv

      • A possible solutions:
        Use bespoke shipping containers that can accomodate ULD devices ( special floor, second raised floor.
        Existing: road transport with accomodation for loading ULD devices.
        (forex from HAN KLM ( to AMS ) and Schenker ( to FRA ) used to have FL0 flights transporting ready packed ULDs ( mostly pallets ).

        • Bespoketh containers weigh 2.2 ton for a dry cargo 20″, 3.8 for a 40″, about 4 ton for a reefer 20″ ie for fresh fish. Puts a lot of extra cost into it.

        • Bespoke containers for Matroshka like ULD road and rail transport.
          Not for air transport.

        • Airborne AGA (ICAO-referenced) : 11.3 t/1.0 t/10.3 t
          evolving towards 16.1 t/1.1 t/15.0 t
          Not stackable full; reefer versions unknown, tbd ?
          No point using steel boxes for airfreighting
          No point putting ULD inside AGA : it’s either-or …

  10. Metrics like payload or whatever per MTOW or OEW never tell the whole story. Believe me, I tried them all and they are always sort of misleading.

    • Concurred, Scorsch … what l’m more interested in is whether any given aircraft development was carried out with commercial Freight Logistics as the primary ‘Mission Design’, or not ? Clearly, A or B’s SomeWBpaxliner-F are pathetic examples where the above approach is confused with ‘ULD Design’, ie with developing all kinds of exotic ULD dimensional varieties, for the sake of fitting them into their paxliners-F … that’s doing things bottom up top down !

      Air Cargo is a full-worthy economic sector by itself and to serve this market, nostalgic and egotic A and B need to perform upon themselves an auto-analytical reprofiling scaling down their superiority complex to accept that commercial Air Cargo conditioning must drive airfreighter design, not the other way around, as has been the case since the ’50-ies, with very few exceptions … and when l refer to exceptions, airlifters of military rolling stock disqualify, improper as they are to adequately handle commercial containerised merchandise ! So forget the Hercules, Mryia, Ruslan, Globemaster, Atlas (or Grizzly ?), Transall & alias … what’s left ?

    • It so happens – but that’s the Exception, often quoted as ‘proof of excellence’ – that paxliner-F type vectors are just PERFECT for carrying ISPF (itemized, small, packaged freight), wherefore they suit the operational needs of packagers, eg DHL, UPS, MRX, CHRONOPOST, TNT, FedEx etc : to these, merchandise density is not a problem, nor is shape … but OEM can hardly base their mainline product strategy upon what adds up to a mere fraction of the general airfreighting market … possibly however, the fleet planning needs of packagers will justify a low-cost (tweaked) -F derivation of a freighter variant from a paxliner design … which has driven airfreighter design for decades. But we should not start out from the Packaging Industry’s basic Design Mission when the purpose is to take the “deep dive” into the dedicated ad hoc full-blooded airfreighter.

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