All you need to know about different types of air cargo shipments

The types of cargo planes, and the different types of air cargo being transported in the skies above the UK and Europe, is not something most of us think about too much in our daily lives. But, the cargo-carrying aircraft that criss-cross the skies on a daily basis is an essential part of the mechanism that keeps the global economy turning successfully.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), along with creating and protecting millions of jobs, the global economy is deeply reliant on the ability to deliver products at competitive prices to consumers around the world. Air cargo moves over US $6 trillion worth of products and goods – almost 35% of world trade – every year. Without the different types of air transport solutions that are available to carry all types of cargo, both big and small, the world’s economy would likely ground to a halt.

In a nutshell, air cargo offers many benefits to its millions of users: prompt shipping solutions, meeting deadlines, security, global reach, the need for less warehousing and on-site storage facilities, and the ability for cargo tracking 24/7.

To keep the world’s supply chains alive and functioning, different types of air freight transporters take to the skies every hour of every day transporting vital materials such as medical supplies, COVID-19 PPE equipment and vaccinations, foodstuffs, mail, spare parts and manufacturing components to keep industry moving, livestock, electronics, and everything in between.

With such a cross-section of goods that need to be carried – literally from needles to anchors – the types of air transport solutions required to get them from A to B are as varied as the cargos that they are charged with moving.

Exploring the diversity of shipment types

So, what types of freight go to make up the bulk of worldwide air cargo?

Global aircraft charter specialists, Chapman Freeborn, have delivered millions of PPE items since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. These vast shipments have been the lifelines for frontline healthcare workers right around the world, getting the equipment where it’s needed as quickly as possible.

However, more generally, the most frequently shipped items listed by the company include: super urgent deliveries, intercontinental mail, humanitarian aid, spare parts for the automotive industry, perishable goods, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, live animals and livestock, high-value goods, medical machinery and accessories, along with spare parts for the aviation and aerospace industries. However, if you can think of an item, it has probably been part of at least one of the multiple types of cargoes that the company has handled over the years.

Whether it’s a one-off package, part of a regular supply chain delivery, or an unusual or outsized cargo request, a professional cargo charter company understands that one of the most important elements is time.

Professional cargo teams work with their clients to optimise the delivery of time-critical cargo in the most efficient and secure manner possible. Sometimes the management of such cargo operations requires additional attention when choosing air freight transportation types – aircraft size, capacity, runway requirements, etc. – as different types of freight often require specialised solutions to unique demands.

Air cargo and the different types of shipments

Aviation and Aerospace – The aviation and aerospace industries often require highly specialised solutions when transporting high-value, urgent, or even supersized cargo. From aircraft engines, electronic flight instrument components, or even entire aircraft sections, this sector of cargo is highly specialised and requires the advice of highly knowledgeable and experienced cargo charter companies.

Automotive Industry – Any downtime in the automotive industry can have heavy, and costly effects on the production line. That’s why, for companies involved in the automobile industry components must reach the production line on time, every time. The automotive industry never sleeps, that why whether moving small individual components or fully-assembled vehicles, an experienced cargo charter company can provide the right shipment types for every situation. Air cargo is the lifeblood of the automotive supply chain where production plans are constantly changing to meet altering demands. Individual, urgent parts can even be delivered by an onboard courier cargo service as part of their hand luggage.

Dangerous Goods – Moving dangerous, volatile, or hazardous materials present its own unique set of challenges. Usually, these challenges can derive from the procurement of overflight permits, landing permits, clearance procedures, along with ensuring the right storage facilities, proper handling procedures, and the loading of dangerous materials onto appropriately equipped aircraft. Once again, expert cargo charter service providers can easily tackle even the most complicated requests 24/7/365.

Heavy or Outsized Cargo – Some things just can’t be packaged into a box and sent around the world via cargo aircraft and require the use of giant transporters like the Antonov AN-124 and AN-225, or the nose-loading Boeing B747-400F. Think mining equipment, power generators, all-terrain vehicles, wind turbine components, and aerospace components, then, think of the logistics behind moving any of these monsters from A to B, carefully, safely, and timely. Sometimes cargo is so specialised it requires the need for a cargo charter team to create an in-depth assessment of the entire logistics behind the project. This assessment could include loading advice, recommendations for packaging requirements, ground handling services, and can even help coordinate any requirements for specialist equipment, such as cranes, infrastructure closures, or custom-made loading structures.

Humanitarian Aid – Providing humanitarian aid as air cargo presents its own unique set of circumstances to navigate. Humanitarian aid is usually required in the aftermath of natural disasters, war situations, famine, and medical emergencies, each of which will determine its own specialised requirements, including air-drops and one-off permits. In many of these situations, specialised or multiple aircraft types may be needed to transport everything from emergency housing and medicines to earth-moving equipment and food supplies, often into areas with little or no on-ground infrastructure. In addition, humanitarian aid is usually organised at short notice, meaning the necessity to fulfil multiple regulations across borders, among NGOs, or in times of civil unrest. Thankfully, many specialist cargo companies have been successfully overseeing such unique missions for many years and are vastly qualified.

Equine, Animal, and Livestock Transport – The humane transport of animals also require highly specialised knowledge, the right freight transportation types, and expert cargo teams to ensure smooth and safe movement from start to finish. Whether moving thoroughbred horses to international racing events or over-winter housing to relocating wild animals to conservation spaces, the type of aircraft and the personnel involved will be vital for a successful outcome. As there are many IATA Live Animal Regulations to be conformed to, a professional cargo charter company is the vital link to ensure that safety, health, and time-constraints are all adhered to.

Insurance for different types of air transport

If you are transporting valuable goods by air from the UK or Europe, either nationally or internationally, you are going to need air cargo insurance. What you need to know is that most forms of air cargo insurance will involve various types of partial coverage – which may only reimburse the transporter 60% of the cargo value.

However, there are more comprehensive and inclusive insurance policies and policy providers available. The more comprehensive the policy, the more peace of mind for the cargo owner. For protection against almost every manner of loss or damage to your goods, full-risk air cargo insurance is probably what you will be looking for. The majority of cargo or freight companies will provide the bare minimum insurance – carrier liability – although this coverage may not be even close to the real value of the cargo being shipped.

Air cargo insurance is a complex and specialised issue, and to ensure maximum cover, all concerns should be addressed directly to an experienced cargo air charter specialist. Specialist cargo brokers can seek end-to-end supply chain insurance for all types of air cargo.

Obtaining the relevant insurance cover is just one of the major tasks that a professional cargo broker can provide. Along with selecting the most suitable aircraft type, relevant to the cargo and client’s budget, the broker can also comply with all rules and regulations of transport, along with obtaining and checking all of the necessary permits, documents, and logistical arrangements are in place.

When you place your goods in the hands of an experienced air cargo charter broker, you can be satisfied that they will perform their duties to ensure that the options they provide will be completed in the fastest and most cost-efficient manner possible – ultimately, saving the client time, money, and peace of mind.

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