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Where do the boxes go....

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...once they've been offloaded from the cargo plane? :huh:

As well as pretending to be a Freight Dog flying a Mad Dog, I sometimes deliver cargo by road. here's one of my rigs, after having fuelled up at one of my garages in Latvia:


Euro Truck Simulator 2 (I also have American Truck Simulator also for 18 wheelin' across the pond).

Whilst it's a screenshot, it's definitely not an aeroplane, so I reckon Hangar Chat was the place if that's OK with the moderators?

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Just as long as it is not discussed in other forums.

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Me too. I've got a few of those truck sims, they're kind of oddly relaxing and graphically they show the sort of thing sims like P3D could be doing with graphics if they had a decent rendering engine. I customised my truck so much, it looks like a tart's handbag lol.

For anyone who is really curious about 'where the boxes go when they're unloaded off the cargo plane', here is what happens at Manchester when cargo comes off an airliner which is also carrying passengers. Note that not all passenger carriers will carry all kinds of cargo, for example, you will find that SAS are happy to carry radioactive materials (in suitably shielded containers of course) in the holds of their aircraft, but other airlines will not do so.

There are rules about how this is carried in aircraft holds, some of this is obvious, some not so much. For example, I'm sure you could work out that we wouldn't normally put human remains in a cargo hold which was also carrying live animals for rather obvious reasons, an exception might be if the human remains were those of the pet's owner and we could be sure the animal was not in distress. And we wouldn't normally put a can of radioactive material in amongst a load of passenger bags. All cargo, regardless of how much is weighs, has to be placed on load spreading planks and secured with tie down straps. Most airliner cargo floors are stressed for a minimum of around 37 kgs per square meter, so it's pretty obvious why we do this, i.e, if it is a powered wheelchair (those things are heavy) and it was just sat on its tires, it would be transmitting all its load through just four small points on the floor, whereas if it is sat on some planks, the load is well spread out. Incidentally, depending on the types of batteries such a chair might use, they either have to be disconnected with the terminals taped up to avoid short circuits, or the batteries have to be removed and carried in the cabin. This is why those 'hover board toys' cannot be carried in an aircraft hold, because they use lithium ion batteries which generally cannot be removed.

Anyhow, when the aeroplane with the cargo is inbound, we can see on our Chroma computer screen system, which takes info from the manifest, if an aeroplane has cargo aboard:


There are many  abbreviated codes for cargo which identify the type, such as AVI (which means it is a live animal), to HUM (which is human remains, typically in a coffin). You can see some of these in the far right column of the image above, COMAIL if you are curious, is company mail on board (usually in a courier bag). There are other things listed in that column too, such as ASU, which means the aircraft has an unserviceable APU and will require an air start unit to crank up its number one engine whilst on stand prior to being pushed back. The red flights are inbound, the blue ones are outbound load ups incidentally.

But there are not codes for everything, if for example it is something rather benign which is on board, it might simply just say it is 'cargo', and we might then open the hold of the aeroplane to find that it is full of boxes of water cress, or carpets or some such, so we can simply offload that onto fairly regular trailers. If on the other hand, it is a pet, or something hazardous, such as fifty boxes of AK47 ammunition, or a radioactive container, we need to fetch an appropriate secure hazardous materials trailer, or one suitable to carry a large pet cage. You might have seen these on the ramp at an airport, the pet ones have wire cage sides, the hazardous material ones have metal panels and secure latches on their doors which can be locked and they are usually either painted red, orange or yellow

So let's say it's just a box of aircraft spares which is in the hold of an SAS Boeing 737 NG. We would simply offload this onto a regular baggage trailer and stick it to one side for a moment, and concentrate on getting the passenger's bags offloaded and into the bag hall onto the carousel. We aim to have this completed, with all bags on the carousel within 25 minutes of the aircraft having arrived on stand, usually we manage it within about 15 minutes, depending on how many there are, as it could be as many as 250 bags which have to be individually offloaded if they are not in a ULD. So until that's done, the cargo has to wait, because with passenger airliners, passenger bag times are the priority (this differs between airlines, for example, 25 mins maximum for SAS short haul, 40 minutes maximum for Thomas Cook long hauls).

Once the bags are all offloaded, we will then clear the stand of ground service equipment (to keep it tidy and because you get fined by the airport if you leave stuff lying about too). This includes getting the trailer with the cargo on it which we offloaded from our SAS 737 NG, over to the cargo handlers. At Manchester, the two main cargo handlers for the airlines (apart from specific cargo airlines such as UPS, Fed Ex etc), are DNata and Swissport (we use both of them for SAS and Etihad stuff).

So, we would drive the cargo trailer of aircraft parts over to the airside exit which is behind stand 66. This has an automatic barrier which raises when you approach it, and no check is made on what you are carrying at this point, since it has come off the aircraft and is leaving the secure area. Once through the barrier, you drive along a road on the landside, adjacent to the airside fence parallel with where stand 66 runs up to stand 73. This is where all the main cargo handler warehouses are. In the case of our aircraft parts off that SAS 737 NG, we would take them to Swissport's warehouse (with fork lifts whizzing about all over the place, so you need eyes in the back of your head lol), drive into it again through an automatic door. Park up, take the cargo's documentation into the Swissport office and hand that over. Their staff will then process the cargo as having arrived and it will then be cleared on to where it has to go (either to an airline facility at the airport, or into a truck to be delivered somewhere). If it is to be trucked somewhere, usually what happens is that a big articulated truck (that'd be a 'semi' to those in the US, or a 'pantechnicon' to those of you who love using old fashioned words) will take it to a large distribution centre fairly near to where its final destination would be, and and from there, it would be delivered locally in a smaller commercial vehicle such as a Ford Transit van or whatever. If one the other hand, our cargo was something hazardous, immediately having driven off airside, before you get to the warehouses, there is an HM customs shed, and you would take your cargo there to be checked before taking it onto the warehouses.

Now, having dropped off the cargo, we would then drive our empty trailer back onto the airport, back the way we came, and for this, you do need to go through a security check. The vehicle is driven up to a barrier, you switch off the engine, open up all the panels on the vehicle have your permit checked, the vehicle is checked with one of those mirror on stick thingies with which you look underneath it. All of the compartments on the vehicle and any trailers it is pulling are checked. you then have to go through a security check (a bit like the one you have when boarding an airliner as a passenger). There is bomb-sniffer equipment, x-raying, metal detection and so on, plus all of those other restrictions you have when boarding an airliner, i.e. cigarette lighters in a plastic bag, no large amounts of liquid etc (this is why everyone tries to avoid taking stuff over to cargo, as if you set anything off or a random check is called for, you have to take your boots off and all that malarkey as well, and you'll have already been through this once, when you arrived at work). Having done all that, you go back to your now checked vehicle, and then you can drive it back out onto the airport airside part. 

For cargo which is going out to aircraft from theses warehouses, the process is basically the reverse of the above, with all cargo being checked at the airside gate before it can be driven onto the airside part of the airport. 

Anyway, there's what happens to your cargo off your aeroplane.

Edited by Chock
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Thanks Chock! THAT was a PROPER answer to "where do all the boxes go?" A great insight into cargo & baggage at EGCC.:cool:

My MD11 has never (knowingly!) carried 50 crates of AK ammo, although a certain battered old Connie I have...and a C46... well.... maybe...:ph34r:

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