The transportation of goods, people and property in an aircraft requires the movement of packaged items, airmail, company material and passenger or crew baggage. Entities involved in this transport move items from shipper to final destination, and include shippers, freight forwarders, aircraft operators, ground handlers and airplane manufacturers. They may use equipment in the transport of cargo, such as unit load devices, tracking devices, and powered devices to monitor and effectively transport the goods.
The cargo supply chain is complex, and risk can be introduced at any point along it. Entities in the transport chain that handle or process general cargo can play a role in preventing the introduction of risks and mitigate them to an acceptable level of safety. Each entity has an opportunity to apply a mitigation strategy.
Regulations are in place to mitigate transport risks. Compliance with regulations is always required and is the first line of defense in safety. There are regulations that address specific aspects of air cargo transport, such as the packaging of hazardous materials and the operating limitations of the aircraft. In addition, the utilization of Safety Management System (SMS) fundamentals is invaluable in aiding the safe carriage of cargo by supporting a robust safety culture. SMS does not alleviate the requirement to comply with the operating limitations of the aircraft.
An emphasis on Cargo Safety within an SMS framework will assist an operator holistically address risks resulting from the carriage of items in aircraft cargo compartments, especially those that may overwhelm the aircraft or aircraft systems during an event.