Unit Load Device ULD - Reference Guide for Air Cargo transportation

May 12, 2023

What are ULDs? (Unit Load Devices)

ULDs come in two types: pallets and containers. Both are used to package freight for aircraft loading.

The type of ULD used depends on space, volume and weight to ensure the Unit Load Device can be lifted into a passenger or cargo plane. 

ULD containers are generally made of aluminum and are sometimes referred to as pods, cans, bins and PMCs. Pallets on the other hand, can be loaded with cargo and are securely lashed with netting. 

Most common types of ULD Reference Guide - PDF Download

Image of a PDF about Air Cargo dimensionsIn this ULD PDF download you can discover the most common aircraft cargo container and dimension sizes including:

  • LD-3
  • LD-6
  • LD-7 passenger & cargo
  • LD-9
  • LD-11
  • A-2


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Unit Load Devices ULD Benefits

Unit Load Devices (ULDs) come in different sizes and shapes and are designed to fit the cargo holds of different aircraft types. ULDs are typically made of aluminum or composite materials and have locking mechanisms to secure the cargo inside.

The use of ULDs provides several benefits for air cargo operations, including:

  • Efficiency: ULDs allow for faster and more efficient loading and unloading of cargo, as they can be easily moved with specialized equipment.
  • Protection and safety: ULDs protect the cargo from damage during handling and transportation.
  • Standardization: ULDs are standardized, which means that they can be easily moved between different aircraft and airports, making it easier to transfer cargo between different airlines and destinations.
  • Cost savings: The use of ULDs can lead to cost savings in terms of handling and transportation, as well as reduced fuel consumption due to the optimized use of cargo space.

Overall, ULDs play a critical role in the air cargo industry and have become an essential tool for transporting goods around the world.

The History of Unit Load Devices (ULDs)

ULDs (Unit Load Devices) were first introduced in the 1950s by the airline industry as a means of optimizing the transportation of cargo in a more efficient manner. Prior to their advent, loading and unloading cargo was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process that had to be done by hand.

Early versions of ULDs were simple wooden pallets that allowed forklifts and other handling equipment to move larger quantities of cargo at once, without having to load and unload individual items.

Over time, as air travel and cargo transportation became more complex, ULDs grew more sophisticated as well. Today, ULDs are made from a variety of materials, including aluminum and composite materials, and come in a wide range of sizes and dimensions to accommodate different types of air cargo.

Major advancements have been made in the design of ULDs, with modern, high-tech materials being used to create lightweight and durable units that can withstand the rigors of air travel. ULDs are now an essential part of modern aviation, allowing cargo to be transported quickly and efficiently, even over long distances.

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