Huge things that fly: A Guide to The Largest Items Flown Using Air Cargo Aircraft

Huge things that fly: A Guide to The Largest Items Flown Using Air Cargo Aircraft

In today’s globalised world, air cargo plays a vital role in transporting goods efficiently and quickly across long distances. While most of us are familiar with traditional airfreight, whereby goods are booked onto a scheduled service through a tariff on per-kilo basis, there is a fascinating subset that deals with transporting massive items through the skies.

We’re here to explore the world of air cargo, focusing on the largest items flown using cargo aircraft. So, buckle up as we take off into the realm of gigantic air cargo.

First off, what is considered Airfreight?

Airfreight refers to the transportation of goods by air. It is a term used to describe the process of shipping various types of products, ranging from small packages to larger shipments. Airfreight is highly valued for its speed, reliability, and global reach. With modern air cargo operations, it is possible to transport goods to almost any part of the world within a matter of hours or days.

Are there any differences between Airfreight & Air Cargo?

While the terms “airfreight” and “air cargo” are often used interchangeably, there can be slight differences in their usage. Airfreight typically refers to the individual packages or smaller shipments that are transported by air. It can include items such as documents, e-commerce, perishable goods, and other smaller products. On the other hand, air cargo generally refers to larger shipments that require specialized handling and transportation methods. These can include oversized items, heavy machinery, vehicles, and even livestock.

Is it Air Freight or Airfreight? And what other terms are used in the industry.

Both “air freight” and “airfreight” are correct and vary depending on regional preferences or specific industries. However, “airfreight” is often seen as a single word product. Additionally, there are other terms used to refer to carriage of goods by air, such as “air shipment,” “air transport,” or simply “air cargo.” These terms are all essentially interchangeable and describe the same concept of transporting goods by air.

 Huge things that fly: Case Studies

  1. The Antonov An-225 Mriya: The Antonov An-225 Mriya was the largest cargo aircraft in the world. It held numerous records for transporting oversized and heavyweight cargo. In one notable case, the An-225 was used to transport a 189-tonne single-piece generator from Germany to Armenia. This massive cargo required specialist handling and loading techniques. The An-225’s immense cargo capacity and unique design allowed for the successful transportation of this colossal item, showcasing the capabilities of air cargo in handling large-scale, out of gauge shipments.
  2. Aircraft Engine Transport: Air cargo plays a crucial role in transporting aircraft engines, which can weigh in at several tons and cost upwards of $40 million. In 2017, a General Electric GE9X engine, which is currently the world’s largest commercial aircraft engine, was transported as air cargo – not under a wing, but within the cargo aircraft itself. The engine was flown from GE Aviation’s facility in Ohio, USA, to Victorville, California, for testing purposes. The use of air cargo allowed for the swift transportation of this massive engine, saving time and ensuring its timely arrival for testing and evaluation. It’s also why air cargo is the first choice for moving engines worldwide in support of AOG – ‘Aircraft On Ground’ situations. A grounded aircraft caused by a fault or engine damage leads to significant losses for airlines. The best way to ship new engines or parts to the damaged aircraft is by air cargo, or AOG cargo charter, a product offered by Airmacs Aviation.
  3. Energy Equipment Transport: Air cargo has also been instrumental in transporting large pieces of energy equipment. In 2018, a 19 meter long and 4.5-meter-wide gas turbine, weighing approximately 121 tonnes, was flown from Germany to Pakistan. The turbine was required for a power plant project and had to be transported urgently. Air cargo proved to be the most efficient method for transporting this heavy and sensitive equipment, allowing for its timely installation, and ensuring the project stayed on schedule.
  4. Oversized Vehicles: Air cargo is also often used to facilitate the transportation of oversized vehicles, such as helicopters and airplanes themselves. In 2019, a helicopter manufacturer utilised air cargo services to transport a fully assembled helicopter from the United States to a customer in a remote location in Africa. The helicopter, with its rotor blades removed and securely packed, was loaded onto a cargo aircraft. This transport option for rotary-wing aircraft is also ideal for rapid response scenarios, for example where rescue helicopters are urgently needed to fight large forest fires or natural disasters. Recently, Airbus has commercialised their Beluga product and is focusing particularly on the helicopter air transport markets. With a loadable cross section of 7.1m in both height and width, the Beluga ST can accommodate some helicopter models without even having to remove the rotor blades.

When compared to sea freight, with customers waiting anywhere from a few weeks or months for the delivery of their goods, Air Cargo & Airfreight proves a quick and reliable solution for super-sized cargo loads.

How Airmacs Aviation can help you secure space, or charter cargo aircraft for urgent airfreight & air cargo shipments.

When it comes to transporting large or urgent airfreight shipments, Airmacs Aviation is a trusted partner you can rely on. Airmacs Aviation specialises in air cargo charter and can assist you in securing space on conventional services or chartering entire cargo aircraft for your urgent shipments.

With an extensive network of airline partners and logistics expertise, Airmacs Aviation can provide tailored solutions to meet your specific needs. Our team of experts will ensure a seamless and efficient transportation process.

Airmacs Aviation understands the urgency and critical nature of certain airfreight shipments. With the knowledge and capabilities to handle oversized and heavy cargo, including the provision of specialist support equipment for loading and unloading. By partnering with Airmacs Aviation, you can benefit from our industry connections, streamlined processes, and reliable transportation solutions.

These case studies highlight the versatility and efficiency of air cargo in handling and transporting the largest and heaviest items. Whether it’s generators, aircraft engines, energy equipment, or oversized vehicles, air cargo provides a reliable and expedient solution for the transportation of massive cargo pieces across the globe.

Air cargo continues to push the boundaries of what can be transported through the skies. With specialised aircraft, equipment, and logistics expertise, Airmacs Aviation has successfully transported enormous items that would have been nearly impossible to meet their deadlines using other modes of transportation. The case studies serve as testaments to the remarkable capabilities of air cargo in handling and delivering even the most substantial cargo pieces to their destinations.

Airmacs demonstrate the flexibility and capability of air cargo to transport even the most substantial and uniquely shaped cargo items.

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