Sunday, January 24, 2010
The largest part of my department, ATO, handles cargo.
Receiving and Sending cargo makes this place run.
Granted, we get a huge amount of cargo each year on
the vessel, which will be here next week, but the day
to day operations of cargo transport via airplanes
is handled by ATO. As you can see from the photo,
all of the items are tightly strapped onto large,
flat pallets, called Air Force Pallets that slide
easily onto either a LC-130 or C-17 and covered for
protection from the elements. These particular
pallets are headed for Christchurch.
Once the cargo is ready to go, it receives a PID, or
Pallet Identification Card. There are two of these on
each loaded pallet...on the Aft and Left side, so they
can be seen on the plane by the Loadmaster.
It is HVY (heavy). It is Do Not Freeze (DNF).
It is Fragile (FRG). It should be Kept Upright (KU).
It should be Kept Dry (KD). This particular pallet
is 100 inches high, weighs 4200 pounds, is going to
Christchurch (CHC) and is the 172nd pallet going to
Christchurch this season (C172). If it were going to
South Pole, it would have a "P" designation instead of
a "C" designation. Also, this PID is yellow. This
means that it should either be kept DNF or KF. If it
was white, it would be neither DNF or KF.
The process of keeping track of what is on each pallet,
where it is going and where it will be placed on an
airplane is the job of the Load Planner. If the
load of pallets and cargo (this includes passengers)
is not balanced correctly, the plane wouldn't be
able to safely fly to its destination. They use
a program called AALPS to help them with this task.
So there you go...a very very brief synopsis of how
cargo works here in ATO. Of course there are lots more
stages of the process that I don't or probably will never
know, but this makes sense to me now, and hopefully to
those reading this, it will to you too. Thanks to
Loadplanners Melanie and Matt for their help with this