ULD is an abbreviation of unit load device used mainly in air cargo transportation. It can be used on wide-body airplanes (with two isles) and some narrow-body (with one isle) airplanes. The ULD are usually formed as a pallet or a container.
In the airport, the checked luggage would be stored into the ULD ready to fly with their owners. Because the ULD is very huge that it can make a lot of luggage into a unit, it has efficiently saved the loading time and help the land crews a lot.
Before taking off, the content of each unit load device should be checked and recorded so that which luggage is in which ULD would be clear. Moreover, the ULDs should be tied tightly with straps or other tie down devices in the cargo hold.
Unit load devices are now come in two types, pallet and container. Both of these two types are made of aluminum alloy because this kind of combined metal can keep its strength in an extremely low temperature. As we know, it is actually very cold high on the sky.
Below are the two types of ULD:
ULD pallets are made of aluminum sheets with rims. They can lock onto cargo net lugs.
When using this kind of unit load device, the land crews would put the cargo or luggage on the plate, then cover them with a big cargo net and tie the net tightly with the cargo. Thus, they can keep the cargo still during the flight.
Planes that can use the ULD pallets are Boeing 747, 767, 777, 787, DC-10, MD-11. The model of LD7/P1P pallet is suitable for all wide body airplanes.
The size of ULD pallets can be various because of different manufacturers, suitability, and functions.
This form of unit load device looks like a container. However, the difference is that it is tilted up in one or two sides of the container.
Generally, the size of a unit load device comes in container form could be between 79 to 96 inches in height, 88 to 96 inches in width, and 62 to 125 inches in length.
The ULD container can be divided into two tyes:
◎ half-width container (LD1 / LD2 / LD3)
◎ full-width container (LD6 / LD8 / LD11)
As same as ULD pallets, the size of the unit load device containers can be various. It depends on the capacity of the cargo hold of an airplane. However, almost all kinds of planes can find at least one model of unit loading device container that fits its cargo hold.
Moreover, since the unit load device container is a hermetic space, if necessary, it can even be installed with refrigeration equipment inside and make it a big refrigerator.
Aircraft loads can consist of unit load device containers, pallets, or a mix. It depends on the requirements.
Before loading, each ULD should be inspected to ensure whether there are any damages that might affect their function.
When using the unit load devices, the operators need to pay attention about where the center of gravity is. Generally, it should be kept in the center area, allowed 10% deviation.
After loading and before taking off, the door of the containers or the straps of pallets should be closed or tied tightly to keep the cargo still. If no, the cargo might hit the wall inside the airplane and cause some troubles or even damages during the flight.
When the unit load devices need to be unloaded, dollies or roller beds or racking are required to support the unit load devices at all times. Forklifts are not suggested because their forks might hurt the unit loading devices. They can only be allowed unless there are some specially designed for carrying unit load devices.
The empty ULD should be stored properly in the right place. Thus, the lifespan would be longer.
There are two types of unit load device, that means they should be stored in different ways.
● ULD Container
The unit load device container should be stored in the special designed container racking. Moreover, they should be stored in the place where is easy to transfer to dollies or other handling equipment.
It is better to prevent the using of forklifts since most of the ULD containers are not designed for moving by forklifts. However, if there are some, that kind of ULD containers should be stored properly and moved by special designed forklifts.
The empty containers are not heavy enough to prevent themselves from blowing away by huge winds in airports. Once the container should be stored outdoors, the outdoor racks should be equipped with preventing measure of blowing away by winds.
● ULD Pallet
Empty pallet can be stored in stacks on the base pallet. Before storing them, please ensure that the cargo nets would not be broken when storing. They can either be attached on the ULD pallet or taken off to store in other places.
Between ULD pallets and the base pallet, a suitable spacing material is required. Moreover, the ULD pallets should be secured to the base pallet by tie down straps.
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