Fire Resistant Aircraft Unit Load Devices and Fire Containment Covers: A New Development in the Global Air Cargo Industry

Glenn Baxter, Kyriakos Kourousis, Graham Wild


Unit load devices (ULDs) are pallets and containers which are used to carry air cargo, mail and passenger baggage on wide-body aircraft. This paper analyses two important recent developments in the suppression of fires on freighter aircraft – fire resistant containers and fire containment covers for palletised cargo. In July 2013,United Parcel Service (UPS) placed an industry-first order for 1,821 fire-resistant shipping containers; this represented a major milestone in aviation history, offering unprecedented protection from intense fires on the airline’s freighter aircraft.The new fire-resistant containers have been designed to withstand intense fires of four hours duration or longer, in order to provide pilots with sufficient time to land their aircraft during such an emergency. Fire containment covers have also been developed to enhance safety on freighter aircraft by isolating individual palletised cargo under special fire retardant covers that are capable of withstanding the intense heat and explosions associated with the ignition of dangerous goods.


Aircraft unit load devices; Air cargo; Fire containment covers; Fire resistant aircraft containers; Freighter aircraft; Innovation.

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