The Forwarder Online Magazine

ULD: The Grease in the Gears of Air CargoULD: The Grease in the Gears of Air Cargo

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A guest blog by Bob Rogers

It has been over 40 very exciting years since the advent of the 747 and its containerized cargo system that changed the face of air cargo. Today, 900,000 Unit Load Devices, with a replacement value of about US$ 1-Billion move tens of thousands of tons of air cargo every day.  ULD are truly the “grease” that keep air cargo moving.

But here is the kicker – the primary function of any ULD is to provide proper restraint for tons of air cargo during flight. In other words, ULD are akin to seatbelts for passengers. And just as nobody would want to “buckle up” with a torn or damaged seat belt, nobody should expect cargo to be carried safely in a damaged or poorly loaded ULD.

Each and every ULD, be it the small A320 AKH or a 20 ft pallet for a 747 freighter, is an aircraft part. Its function is to keep itself and its contents secure in a defined location regardless of flight conditions. As such, ULD are flight safety equipment and are subject to strict regulatory oversight by the worlds civil aviation bodies.

And here’s the issue. On one hand, the airlines are responsible for the flight safety of the ULD they carry. On the other, the forwarding community routinely works with and load ULD have no such regulatory oversight. This is why ULD CARE has launched the ULD CARE ULD Code of Conduct. Details available at

Want to learn more about the “grease”? Visit the ULD CARE website at, watch the short video SOS-ULD at You can also find out more about the Code of Conduct at

All the details are available in our book ULD Explained available at .

ULD CARE is a not-for-profit Canadian corporation. Its membership is open to organizations whose scope encompasses any aircraft unit load device (ULD) activity.


ULD CARE started as an IATA committee in 1971 and became a legal entity in 2011. The Mission of ULD CARE is to use the collective resources, skills and grass roots experience of the ULD CARE membership to provide direction and deliver appropriate change in ULD operations throughout the global air cargo operating environment.