The underlying aim of preparing cargo for transport by air is to avoid damage or injury to: the cargo itself; loading staff, the aircraft and loading equipment.  Following the general principles below will go a long way to achieving the aim.  Cargo carried by air experiences more handling and stresses and strains than surface cargo.  When procuring goods from a factory it is strongly recommended that packing suitable for air transport be specified in the procurement contract.  Packing materials eg nails, wood and blankets can be selected with a view to recycling/alternative use at destination by beneficiaries.


  • Special instructions apply to hazardous items such as flammables, including oils (both cooking and fuel): corrosives; poisons; and compressed gases etc.  Always ensure that such items are specifically mentioned on the movement request and consult the transport provider well before the date of movement so that any special packing conditions may be observed.


  • All pieces must be check-weighed.  Do not believe packing lists or any other source.  When signing the movement request, you (not any other the source of information) are taking responsibility for the accuracy , including weights, of all information on the request document.  Items heavier than stated can cause aircraft to crash; items shown as lighter than they are waste capacity.  This requirement is particularly important/easy to observe with consignments consisting of very high numbers of pieces eg tents or metal sheeting – if there are 1,000 pieces, an error of 1kg per piece can change the overall weight by a tonne.  But it is very easy to avoid this by check-weighing a small sample.


  • Similarly, all pieces in the consignment should be clearly marked with, as a minimum, details of sender/receiver, destination and some reference mark eg Merlin, Panjkot, 3 of 7, 30 Nov 05.. For mass-delivery of one sort of relief-goods to a single destination, this rule may be waived.


  • The goods must be packaged in such a way that it is secure and does not move in the package.  Exposed edges that could cause injury or damage, eg cutting in to helicopter underslung load nets, must be protected.


  • Cartons must be made of strong cardboard capable of lasting through all the handling/loading/unloading in the chain from loading trucks at the departure warehouse to unloading of the aircraft and delivery to end user at the final destination.


  • Smaller items must be consolidated and loaded in suitable crates or cartons to reduce the handling task and prevent them from falling through cargo nets in the aircraft or underslung from a helicopter.


  • All goods must be ready at the aircraft in accordance with call-forward instructions issued by the carrier to ensure punctual departure. Ground-time must be minimised in order to maximise flying hours available in the flying day/crew duty hours window and, where applicable, increase the number of rotations.


  • If any goods have to be re-packed, this must be done prior to arrival at the aircraft loading area.


  • Wet goods are generally much heavier than dry goods and could cause the aircraft to be dangerously overloaded.  Therefore, goods must be kept dry at all times prior to loading.


  • There must be a loading/unloading team at both the take-off and the landing-site.


  • Consider the need for handling equipment for heavier items.  Check availability of a crane or forklift.





Corrugated Galvanised Iron (CGI) Sheets:

One way used to package CGI is to create a perimeter of four wood boards around each banded bundle of CGI sheets to create a “box”.  The two end members of the box are nailed to the edges of the two side members.  Two wooden slats are then nailed on the top across the CGI sheets to connect and hold the longer side pieces of this box together.  Another two wooden slats are nailed on the opposite side (bottom).  The slats are spaced approximately 24 inches from each end.  No nails penetrate the CGI sheets – just the side members.


An alternative way to pack the CGI is using metal bands to tightly band the CGI together and then wrapping the edge of each pack with cushioning, eg blankets, to avoid the sharp edges.


Any "kits" or tools needed for the final assembly of the CGI structure (shovel, hammers, etc.) that will accompany the CGI-sheets must also be packaged in such a way so they do not move freely around in the aircraft or potentially slip out of a sling load net.


When packing CGI for internal loading in the helicopters, the weight must not exceed that which can be comfortably handled by available manpower.


You may consider the wood and nails as a recoverable item for the beneficiaries as they can conceivably be used in the construction of shelters or even as firewood.


Cartons:  Cartons should be filled completely (with excess packaging if necessary) so as to avoid contents being crushed if overstowed by other items.


High density items:   Heavier items such as nails, screws, tools and similar, should be packed in wooden or other robust packing which do not burst under their own weight or if dropped.


Flour & rice-bags:  Bags of Rice/Flour should be loaded so as not to be punctured by other items.


Blankets/bedding:  Blankets should be tightly packed in bundles. There must be no loose blankets in/around the aircraft.  Other low-density bedding, especially quilts, must be packed and compressed as tightly as possible.  Consider the use of containers which may be subsequently be put to other good use by beneficiaries.


Vegetable oil:  The lids of the vegetable oil tins must be tightly secured so that they do not open accidentally in flight.  Carried internally, it constitutes dangerous air cargo.  Consequently the outer container must be capable of absorbing any leakage/spillage from an inner container. 


Pipes:  Pipes must be bundled together depending of the weight/size.  They must be prepared so there is no possibility of falling through a sling-net.


Clothes:  The best way is to pack the clothes/shoes in sealed plastic bags which will prevent the contents being soaked in case of rain/snow.


Heavy items:  High-density goods must not be loaded on top of low-density goods.


Tents:  ALWAYS CHECK-WEIGH at least one of each type of tent in the consignment.