Cargo companies fly their cargo on various aircraft. The types of aircraft utilized for air cargo can range from wide-body freighters to small turboprop “feeders.”
Wide-Body Freighters: Accommodate containerized and palletized freight on upper and lower (belly) decks and typically operate at airports in major metropolitan areas. They are used on both short domestic and long transoceanic international routes and require long runways for takeoff and landing.
Narrow-Body Freighters: Accommodate containerized and palletized freight on upper decks only and are used primarily on domestic routes throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean and serve smaller metropolitan areas and also require long runways for takeoff and landing.
Feeder Aircraft: Express carriers, such as FedEx, DHL, and UPS also rely on feeder airlines that operate small aircraft to support transporting cargo to and from small to medium sized markets to cargo hubs. These aircraft are comprised of piston and turboprop aircraft and do not require long runways for takeoff and landing.
Airbus VS Boeing
Aircraft of the French company Airbus are widely used for cargo transportation all over the world. The great demand for them is due to the high quality of the aircraft. Among the most popular models are the following:
The wide-body Airbus A310 is capable of carrying up to 7 tons of commercial cargo one time. Its cargo cabins can accommodate up to 10 containers, piece cargo, pallets.
Narrow-body aircraft Airbus A319-100 (A319) – used for short and medium-range flights. It can accommodate cargo with a total weight of up to 6.8 tons, which is placed in the front and rear compartments, as well as in the bulk cargo compartment. The Airbus A320-200 (A320A) model, which has similar technical characteristics and capacity, is not far behind.
Airbus A321-100 (A321А) – known as the modified A320, belongs to the largest airliners of this family, its maximum takeoff weight is 93,500 kg.
The American corporation The Boeing Company produces aircraft that are also perfectly adapted for passenger and cargo transportation. Their main advantages are reliability, versatility and the ability to carry out many hours of flights. The following models are especially popular:
Boeing 737-300 (В737-300) are narrow-body airliners that can be easily modified into cargo versions. They are capable of transporting 5.73 tons of commercial cargo by air.
Boeing 767-300 – airliners with a maximum load of no more than 9 tons, have 5 compartments for various types of cargo. They are able to carry out flights of medium and long distance.
Boeing 777-200 are wide-body long-haul vessels. They can accommodate up to 18 containers in the front compartment, up to 14 in the rear compartment, piece goods, mail, luggage, up to 17 cubic meters in volume, in the bulk cargo sector.
New trends in air cargo delivery
The coronavirus crisis of 2020 has been a strong impetus for changes in the types of aircraft used for transporting goods and how a happy future is predicted.
Air cargo is innovating and moving forward rapidly, but still remains the most expensive mode of transportation. Air travel accounts for just 1 percent of the world’s freight traffic by volume, but 35 percent by value. Therefore, in the era of decreasing orders, total economy caused by the crisis, the need for new ways to combat such costs and improve efficiency in the interests of both the consumer and the logistics company was felt even more strongly.
For example, small aircraft are increasingly coming to the attention of the market. This trend is also exacerbated by the growing crisis in the cost of airport maintenance, the problem of lack of adequate air infrastructure in remote areas of the world, and strict requirements for CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. There is a clear need for light, small-sized, ecological aircraft that could easily cover short distances and deliver goods where it takes a long time for a truck to travel and there is no large airport or runway of the required size.
The Chinese company Autoflight this year began testing the V400 Albatros electric UAV prototype, which was presented on September 13, 2020 at the World UAV Federation Congress in Shenzhen, China. A cargo version is currently being tested.
The V400 debuted. Its maximum take-off weight is 400 kg, and its payload is 100 kg, and its maximum take-off height is 5000 m. Autoflight is developing two versions of Albatros: an all-electric with a range of 300 km at full load and a hybrid-electric with a range of up to 1000 km.
For vertical take-off and landing, the V400 uses 8 propellers driven by separate electric motors. For horizontal movement, the all-electric model has two engines with pull and push propellers, while the hybrid has one internal combustion engine at the rear of the fuselage.
With an AI flight control system, multiple sensors and radars to assist with takeoff and landing, and the ability to detect and avoid obstacles, the V400 will be able to fly fully autonomously.
In August 2020, online giant Amazon received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to deliver goods by drones to the United States. Last year, Amazon unveiled its MK27 vertical take-off and landing hexagonal drone. It can transport parcels weighing up to 2.2 kg in about half an hour.
Delivery will be carried out within a radius of 12 km from the warehouse. The drone is equipped with a set of smart sensors that allows you to land without affecting power lines or posing a hazard to people or pets.
The FAA has twice issued such permits in the United States. The first received the Wing Aviation service, owned by the Alphabet holding company, which owns Google. The second went to a division of the UPS express delivery company.
In September 2020, Austrian company Schiebel tested a Camcopter unmanned aerial vehicle, delivering parts from shore to the Troll A oil platform of Norwegian energy company Equinor. The aircraft flew from the Mongstad industrial area.
During the tests, the Camcopter unmanned helicopter flew 102 kilometers. During the flight, the device conducted a training search and rescue operation. The drone delivered a spare part manufactured using additive technologies to the platform. After delivery, Camcopter surveyed the oil platform and then returned to the departure point.
The conditions that are now developing in the world contribute to the search for innovative solutions for the implementation of air cargo transportation. Drones can indeed solve the issue of delivering small-sized cargo over relatively short distances, which will significantly relieve the market and, in combination with high-tech drones, will compete with large aircraft.
Only time will tell how effective the use of such aircraft in air travel will be, but the likelihood that very soon the market will have its own “Tesla” and “Smart” is high enough.
Based on materials from Transmetrics, Wired, UASweekly
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