Fun Facts you should know about Air Cargo

Flying was one of mankind’s first dreams. Since this dream was brought to the real world and air transport became one of the most sophisticated and organized modes of transport. Air transport is, also, the most recent mode of transport created. Almost everything related to air transport has been documented. Therefore, it would be good to know some of the interesting facts about air cargo.

The first Air Cargo Flight ever?

The first flight ever recorded carrying cargo took off on November 7th, 1910 between Dayton and Columbus, OH. It was a distance of around 100 km (65 miles) and carried a single shipment of 90 kgs (200 lbs) of silk for a store opening. Even though the distance wasn’t much but it took a little over an hour to reach the destination. The plan used in this flight was the “Model B” invented by the Wright Brothers. It was in a race against an express train. Guess who won?

However, the first international Air Mail flight was one year later in 1911 between India and the United Kingdom. Airfreight transport was not regular and was done by commercial air cargo companies till after world war II when the International Air Transport Association (IATA) was formed. The movement was by passenger aircraft. It was till 1968 that the cargo aircraft only CAO was operated by the international air freight companies with the launch of the Boeing 747 with a capacity of more than 100 tons.

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Largest Air Cargo freighter in the world

The Ukrainian company Antonov has won the race of the largest aircraft race with their impressive Antonov 225 Mriya. This aircraft was designed during the 1980s. It has 6 engines and can carry up to 640 tons in take-off weight. It didn’t start with the Antonov – 225, this model  was created as a bigger design of the previously operated Antonov – 124 which can carry up to 190 tons of cargo.

The second cargo aircraft that comes after this giant is the Boeing  747-8 Dreamlifter with a maximum take off capacity of around 410 tons. Using cargo aircraft only (CAO) gives more flexibility in loading the cargo compared to the smaller acceptable dimensions by the passenger aircraft.

A good part of the global trade moves by Air

As published by the International Air Transport Associations (IATA), the international air cargo companies have moved around 62 million tons in 2019. In 2020, even with the COVID-19 effect on global trade, still, the air freight companies managed to cross the 62 million tons.  This forms more than one third of the global trade.

Busiest International Air Cargo Airport

The busiest international air cargo airport in 2020 is Hong Kong. It managed to maintain the position for quite a long time. This airport have managed to process around 5 million tons of cargo which is around 8% of the total annual volume, this is more than half a million tons more than the secone airport in line which is Memphis International Airport.

Perhaps, Memephis International Airport is coming to this position as it has supports the headquarters of the largest cargo aircraft operator in the world FedEx (owns more than 650 aircraft moving around the world).

First FAA-approved drone delivery

“ On September 27, 2019, UPS Flight Forward conducted its first package delivery by drone with its part 135 certification when it flew medical supplies at WakeMed’s hospital campus in Raleigh, NC.”
It’s been a long road of competition when it comes to advanced technology in the shipping industry. Not only in the “last mile” delivery but also in the packaging, software, communication, cost saving, … etc. When it came to drone, UPS has won the first drone officially approved delivery.

The race for technology is becoming tougher and the bar is being raised more and more. Now we have digital freight forwarding as the latest improvement in international shipping and transportation. Pioneering freight forwarders have managed to create platforms that can connect with major carriers and complete the cycle of coordination which is going to facilitate the process, reduce the cost and minimize any human errors.

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Karim Nasser

VP at Globitex with more than 15 years of experience in shipping and transportation in Air, Sea, Land freight, and courier. Now for a couple of years, more into digital freight. I believe in a saying “ in shipping, we deliver hope not only shipments”.