Air Cargo Basics A Quick Reference Guide

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A Back to Top

Same as Air Waybill
Air Cargo Guide
The official scheduling guide for scheduled air freight services, published by the Official Airline Guides (OAG). It contains current Domestic and international cargo flight schedules, including freighter, wide body and combination passenger-cargo flights. Each monthly issue also contains information on air carriers’ special services, airline and aircraft decoding, airport codes, air carrier and freight forwarders directory, customs information, glossary of ULD terms and information, cargo charter airlines, interline air freight agreements, aircraft loading charts and more.
Air Cargo, Inc (ACI)
A ground service corporation jointly owned by several U.S. scheduled airlines. In addition to its airline owners, ACI serves over 50 air freight forwarders and international air carriers as associate participants. One of ACI’s major functions is to facilitate the surface movement of air freight by negotiating and supervising the performance of a nationwide series of contracts under which trucking companies provide both local pickup and delivery service at airport cities and over-the-road truck service to move air freight to and from points not directly served by the airlines. ACI publishes a directory of these trucking services, listing points served in the United States and the applicable pickup and delivery rates. Other services include claims inspection, terminal handling, telemarketing service, group purchasing )equipment, supplies, insurance) and EDI services.
Air Express
Shipments for which the airline provides a guaranteed level of expedited service, such as overnight, at a premium charge. It may be restricted as to package weight and size.
Air Freight
Property other than mail. Express, or passenger baggage tendered to an airline for transportation.
Air Freight Forwarder
A Service organization which serves the dual role of air carrier (usually indirect) and shipper. To the shipper the air freight forwarder is an indirect air carrier because it receives freight under its own tariff, yet does not actually operate the airplanes. The air freight forwarder provides pick-up and delivery service to and from the shippers dock, consolidates shipments into larger units, prepares shipping documentation and tenders shipments to the airlines. To the airlines, the air freight forwarder is a shipper. Ordinarily an air freight forwarder is classed as an indirect air carrier, however, some air freight forwarders operate their own aircraft.
Airline Tariff Publishing Co. (ATPCO)
Publisher of airline industry tariffs setting forth rates and rules applicable to air freight. Tariffs are available on a subscription basis.
Airport Mail Facility (AMF)
A U.S. Postal Service facility located on or adjacent to an airport that is primarily engaged in the dispatch, receipt, and transfer of mail directly with air carriers.
Airport to Airport
Air cargo service from airport of origin to airport of destination, without pick-up and delivery service.
Air Transport Association of America (ATA)
A trade and service organization for U.S. scheduled airlines. In the cargo field, ATA works with the airlines, the Government, and shippers in developing improved standards and techniques in all phases of air cargo. ATA is an authoritative source of information on cargo matters such as air freight packaging practices, automation, data on air freight growth and statistical data on air cargo services.
Air Waybill (Airbill)
A shipping document used by the airlines for air freight. It serves as a contract for carriage and includes carrier conditions of carriage such as limits of liability and claims procedures. The air waybill also contains shipping instructions to the airline, a description of the commodity, and applicable transportation charges. The airline industry has adopted a standard formatted air waybill that accommodates both domestic and international traffic.
Allowable Cabin Load (ACL)
The maximum payload weight that can be carried on an airplane on a specific route segment under a specific set of operation conditions.
Articles of Extraordinary Value (A.E.V.)
Commodities identified as high value items.
Automatic Proof of Delivery (P.O.D.)
Information automatically sent to payer containing name of person who signed for the package with date and time of delivery.

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Passenger personal property or other passenger articles transported in connection with a journey. Unless otherwise specified, it includes both checked and unchecked baggage.
Baggage Cart
A towed vehicles used for ramp transport of bulk freight, baggage, and mail.
Belly, Pits or Holds
Compartments located beneath the cabin of an aircraft and used for the carriage of cargo and passenger baggage.
Belt Loader
A vehicle equipped with an adjustable height belt conveyor designed for loading/unloading bulk cargo.
Bill of Lading
A document by which a carrier receipts for goods and contracts to move them. In air freight, the air waybill serves as the bill of lading and is the contract for carriage.
Bonded Terminal
An airline terminal approved by the U.S. Treasury Department for storage of goods until Customs duties are paid or the goods are otherwise released.
Break Bulk
Disassembling or unpacking a consolidated shipment for delivery or for reconsignment.
Bulk Cargo
Loose cargo, not unitized, not loaded in containers or on pallets.
Bulk Cargo Carts
Mobile units which transfer the bulk cargo from the airplane to the cargo handling terminal or to other airport locations.
Bulk Loaded
Cargo loaded as loose pieces into airplane compartments.

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Cargo Aircraft
Aircraft for the carriage of cargo only, rather than the combination of passengers and cargo. Cargo aircraft carry palletized or containerized traffic on the main deck and either unitized or bulk cargo on the lower deck. Cargo aircraft are normally equipped with special cargo loading systems on the main deck. Also referred to as freighters or all-cargo aircraft.
Cargo Agent
An agent appointed by an airline to solicit and process international air freight for shipments. Cargo agents are paid commissions by the airline.
Cargo Loader
Mobile equipment with elevation platforms and powered rollers for loading/ unloading ULDs on airplane main decks or lower lobes. It may be "scissor" or "post" design, or a forklift equipped with a non- powered roller platform.
Cartage Agent
Ground service operator who provides pickup and delivery in areas not served directly by air carrier.
Chargeable Weight
The weight of the shipment used in determining air freight charges. The chargeable weight may be the dimensional weight or the actual scale weight of the shipment. See dimensional weight.
Charges Collect
Transportation charges may include pickup and/or delivery and are entered on the air waybill to be collected from the consigned. Equivalent terms are "freight collect" or "charges forward."
Charter Service
The temporary hiring of an aircraft, usually on a trip basis, for the movement of cargo or passengers.
Check Digit Number
A single digit of the air waybill number used to insure that the air waybill number is correctly entered into a computer system.
Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB)
Federal agency created by Congress in 1938 to promote the development of the U.S. air transport system, to award air routes, and to regulate passengers fares and cargo rates. Legislation passed by the U.S. Congress in 1978 terminated the CAB, effective January 1, 1985. Many of the CAB functions were transferred to the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Collect Charges
The transportation practice under which the receiver of the goods pays charges. See Charges Collect.
Collect on Delivery (COD)
A transportation service under which the purchase price of the goods in collected by the carrier from the receiver at the time of delivery. Payment Is subsequently transmitted to the shipper. Carriers charge a nominal fee for this service. Payment is due upon delivery. There are no credit provisions in COD service.
An acronym for "company-owned material." The airlines own property (Spare parts, station supplies, ticket stock, etc.) carried on the airlines own airplanes.
Combi Airplane
An airplane configured to carry both passengers and unitized cargo on the main deck.
Combination Carriers
Scheduled air carriers who transport both passengers and cargo in passenger configured aircraft, with cargo restricted to the lower deck compartments.
The person or firm whose name appears on the air waybill as the party to whom the goods are to be delivered by the carrier.
Synonym for shipment. A shipment of one or more pieces of property, accepted by the carrier from one shipper at one time, receipted for in one lot, and moving on one air waybill.
The person or firm whose name appears on the air waybill as the party contracting with the carrier for carriage of the goods. Usually the shipper.
A number of separate shipments that have been assembled into one shipment for movement on one air waybill from one location to another.
An entity that provides consolidation services, joining multiple shipments into a single shipment fro tender to an air carrier. An Air Freight Forwarder performs the function of a consolidator.
A unit load device (ULD) which interfaces directly with the airplane cargo handling and restraint system. (See Unit Load Device.)
The practice or technique of using a boxlike device (containers) in which a number of packages are stored, protected, and handled as a single unit in transit.
Container, Non-structural
A bottomless, rigid shell made of fiberglass, metal or other suitable material used in combination with an airplane pallet and net assembly.
Container Rate
A rate for the transportation of an entire container or ULD at a uniform charge, regardless of the weight of its content, unless a pivot weight is specified (See Pivot Weight)
Container, Structural
A rigid structure that performs the function of a ULD without the use of restraining net.
Contoured ULD
A ULD shaped to fit the airplane envelope to utilize the maximum space available.
Contract Rate
An unpublished rate established by contractual agreement between a carrier and a regular shipper, usually linked to a minimum volume requirement over a specified time period. Contract rates are sometimes a specified percentage discount of published rates.
Convertible Airplane
An airplane which can be converted from an all-passenger configuration to an all-cargo configuration or vice-versa, or to various configurations of passengers and cargo.
Coordinated movement
The coordination and preplanning of schedules and air transport services between two or more carriers or shippers, often involving interline agreements and joint rates. Such services may involve the use of all forms of air as well as surface transport.
Attendant who accompanies cargo shipment(s). Also, attendant such as groom or veterinarian who accompany rare horses or other live animals.
Cube Rule
A tariff basis stating the minimum density on which weight-based charges are to be computer (See Dimensional Weight)
Cubic Capacity
The carrying capacity within an aircraft or container, expressed either in cubic feet, cubic inches, cubic centimeters or cubic meters.
Customhouse Broker
A broker who is certified by the U.S. Bureau of Customs to act for importers and other businessmen in handling the sequence of Customs formalities and other details related to the legal importation of goods.
The designated government authority that regulates the flow of goods to/from a country and collects duties levied by a country on imports and exports. The term also applies to the procedures involved in such collection.
Customs Court
A U.S. Customs Services court based in New York, NY, consisting of three 3-party divisions to which importers may appeal or protest classification and value decisions and certain other actions taken by U.S. Customs Service.
Customs Declaration
A statement, oral or written, attesting to the correctness of description, quantity, value, etc., of merchandise offered for importation into the United States.
Hundredweight (100 lb). The standard unit used for establishing U.S. domestic cargo rates, other than specified container rates.

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Dangerous Goods
The United Nation’s official term for Hazardous Materials. Articles or substances which are capable of posing a significant risk to the health or safety of the general public when transported by air and which are classified according to the most current editions of the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air and the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations. See Hazardous Materials.
Declared Value for Carriage
The value of goods declared to the carrier by the shipper for the purposes of determining charges of or establishing the limit of the carrier’s liability for loss, damage, or delay. See Valuation Charges.
Declared Value for Customs
The selling price of the contents or the replacement cost if the contents are not for resale. The amount mush be equal to or greater than the declared value.
Deferred Air Freight
Property received for air transportation at a level of service lower than standard service (e.g., space available) and transported at a lower charge than standard air freight.
Deferred Rate
A rate that is lower than the corresponding standard rates for a comparable shipment. A shipper using a deferred rate agrees to accept a lower level or service in return for the lower rate.
The detention of containers by shippers or receives of freight beyond a specified grace period. The airlines tender carrier owned containers to the customer for loading and unloading of the unit. In the event the container is not returned to the carrier within a specified time (usually 36-48 hours) a charge may be assessed by the carrier for each 24-hour period or fraction there of beyond the allowed time.
Density is weight per unit of volume. Density is computer by dividing a shipments weight by its cubic volume. Generally expressed in pounds per cubic foot in the U.S.
Department of Transportation (DOT)
An executive department of the U.S. Government established by the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 for the purposes of developing national transportation policies. As a result of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, the Dot acquired many of the functions of the CAB.
Dimensional Weight (Volume Weight)
A computed weight based on a minimum density requirement. It is used to determine the freight charges for low dense shipments. It is computed by dividing the shipment volume by the minimum density requirement. The Dimensional Weight Rule was developed to insure fair compensation for low-density shipments. When a given shipment falls below the minimum density requirement, dimensional weight rather than actual weight is used to calculate the transportation charged. Minimum density requirements vary from carrier to carrier. Some carriers give discounts for shipments of high-density goods.
Direct Air Carrier
An air carrier that operates airplanes on a scheduled or contract (charter) basis, or both, and provides transportation for a charge. An airline as opposed to a freight forwarder.
A piece of equipment used to move containers or pallets around the airport with the aid of a tractor.
Door to Door or Dock to Dock
Transportation of a shipment from the shipper’s premises (factory, store, warehouse, etc.) to the consignee’s premises (as opposed to airport to airport).
The Tax imposed on imports by the Customs authority of a country. Duties are generally based on the value of the goods (ad valorem duties), but may be based on weight or quantity (specific duties) or a combination of value and other factors (compound duties).

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Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
A computerized system for communicating information about a shipment, including tracking and tracing, air waybill information and customs documentation.
Temporary refusal to accept traffic for transportation at certain points or in certain routes due to emergencies, limitation of facilities, or other abnormal circumstances.
Exception Ratings
Rates set at a certain percentage above the general commodity rates because they apply to commodities that require special handling, such as live animals, human remains, or automotive vehicles.
Excess Valuation
See Declared Value
Export License
A Government document which permits the "Licensee" to engage in the export of designated goods to certain destinations.
Small parcel shipments for which premium (usually overnight) service is provided.
External Dimensions, ULD
The Extreme outside measurement, including any handles or other protrusions, on a ULD.
External Volume, ULD
The amount of space a ULD occupies in an airplane, calculated using the extreme external dimensions of the unit.

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Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Created under the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 as the Federal Aviation Agency and charged with the responsibility of promulgation operational standards and procedures for all classes of aviation in the United States. With the creation of the cabinet level Department of Transportation in 1966 FAA became a unit within the new Department and received the new designation Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA Administrator, however, continues to be a presidential appointee and the FAA remains a separate entity with most of its former functions. In the field of air cargo FAA promulgates certain stress standards, which must be me in the tie down of cargo in flight.
Foreign Trade Zone
A port designated by the Government of a country for duty-free entry of any non-prohibited goods. Merchandise may be stored, displayed, used for manufacturing, etc. within the zone and re-exported without duties being paid. Duties are imposed on the merchandise (or items manufactured from the merchandise) only when the goods pass from the foreign trade zone into an area of the country subject to the Customs authority.
Free Along Side (FAS)
A basis of pricing meaning the price of goods alongside a transport vessel at a specified location. The buyer is responsible for loading the goods onto the transport vessel and pays all the cost of shipping beyond that location.
Free Domicile
A term used in international transportation where the shipper pays all transportation charges and any applicable duties and/or taxes.
Free On Board (FOB)
A pricing term indication that the quoted price includes the cost of loading the goods into transport vessels at the specified place.
Free Trade Zone
See Foreign Trade Zone

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General Commodity Rate (GCR)
An air freight rate applicable to all commodities except those for which specific rates have been filed such rates are based on weight and distance and are published for each pair of cities an airline serves.
General Order (GO)
Merchandise not entered within 5 working days after arrival of the carrier and subsequently stored at the risk and expense of the importer.
Gross Weight
Entire weight of a shipment including the weight of containers (tare weight) and packaging material. On an air waybill, the tare weight (when applicable) and shipment weight are listed separately.

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Hazardous materials (Hazmat)
The U.S. Government’s official term for Dangerous Goods. Items of freight that are inherently harmful and classified under Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Hazardous Materials may only be transported under certain conditions relative to packaging, quantity carried, airplane type, location on board the airplane, etc., and in conformance with applicable rules. Also see Dangerous Goods.
High Capacity Airplane
Equivalent to wide-bodied airplanes. Specifically refers to B747, B767, B777, A300, A330, A340, DC10, MD-11, L-1011, IL-86 & IL-96.
Hold For Pickup
Freight to be held at the carrier’s destination location for pickup by the recipient.
Hub and Spoke System
An airline route pattern that directs traffic from many cities into a central hub designed to connect with other flights to final destinations. They system maximizes fleet utilization by connecting many markets through a central hub with fewer flights than would be required to connect each pair of cities in a point to point system.

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A structural or non-structural container contoured to the dimensions of a standard-body freighter main deck.
Import License
A document required and issued by some national governments authorizing the importation of goods into their individual counties.
In Bond
As applied to air freight coming into the United States, the term "in Bond" refers to a procedure under U.S. Customs rules where the clearance of cargo is postponed until the cargo reaches an inland Customs point rather than subjecting the cargo to clearance procedures at the first arriving U.S. gateway airport where process might be more time consuming. The procedure is so named because the cargo moves under the carrier’s bond (financial liability assured by the carrier) from the gateway airport and remains "In Bond" until Customs releases the cargo at the inland Customs point (airport).
Indirect Air Carrier
Indirect air carriers are those businesses authorized to receive freight from shippers under their own tariff, but who utilize certified air carriers (direct air carriers) to perform the air transportation services. See Air Freight Forwarder.
Integrated Carrier
A carrier that provides door-to-door air cargo transportation using its own or contracted airplanes and motor trucks, and performs this service under the authority of a singe air waybill (e.g. United Parcel Service and Federal Express).
The movement of a shipment via two or more carriers. See coordinated Movement and Intermodal Compatibility.
Movement of goods by more than one mode of Transport, i.e. railroad, truck, ship and airplane, in the same ULD, under a singe waybill.
Intermodal Compatibility
The capability to transfer a shipment from one mode of transport to another, as from airplane to highway truck, to railway freight car, to ocean vessel. Certain aircraft can accommodate large types of standard containers commonly used in surface transport.
Intermodal Container
A structural container designed for carriage on airplanes, trucks, rail cars, and ocean vessels and equipped with corner fittings for restraint on a truck chassis and/or for lifting by crane or other loading mechanism.
Internal Fittings
A means of securing cargo inside a container.
Internal Volume, ULD
Maximum available space within the container or pallet net envelope.
International Air Transport Association (IATA)
An international trade and service organization for airlines of more than 100 countries serving international routes. IATA activities on behalf of shippers in international air freight include development of containerization programs, freight handling techniques and, for some airlines, uniform rates and rules.
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
The International Aviation Organization of Governments, ICAO is an agency of the United Nations. It was organized to insure orderly worldwide technical development of civil aviation.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
A worldwide federation of national standards organizations. "ISO container" denotes a container equipped with standard ISO corner fittings for lifting or for retaining on a truck chassis.

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Joint Rate
A single through-rate on cargo moving via two or more air carriers or air and surface carriers.
Just in Time (JIT)
The principle of production and inventory control that calls for immediate movement of raw materials, component parts, and work-in-progress. Goods arrive when needed (just in time) for production or use rather than becoming expensive inventory that occupies costly warehouse space.

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Lay Order
The period during which the imported merchandise may remain at the place or unloading without some action being taken for its disposition, i.e., beyond the 5-day General Order period
Length & Girth
A limitation on shipment size occasionally used by an airline. The equation used to calculate length and girth: Length + (2 x width) + (2 x height). The largest measurement always used as the length in the equation.
Letter of Credit (LC)
A document issued by a bank at the request of the buyer of goods. The LC guarantees payment to the seller given receipt by the bank of certain shipping documents validating the delivery of goods, within a specified time period.
Load Factor, Cargo
The percentage of total available cargo capacity occupied by revenue cargo. It may be computer on the basis of volume, weight, or ULD capability.
Loading Gauge
A rigid framework in the shape of an airplane interior contour for the purpose of checking a pallet load on the ground to ensure it will fit into a particular position in a specific airplane type. Also referred to as a template.
Loose Cargo, Loose Shipments
Air cargo delivered to an airline as separate packages and loaded and unloaded onto airplanes (or ULDs) by airline employees, and then delivered as separate pieces to the consigned. See Bulk Cargo.
Lot Labels
Labels attached to each piece of a multiple lot shipment for identification purposes.
Lower Deck
The compartment below the main deck (also called "lower love,’ ‘Lower hold,’ ‘pit’ or ‘belly’).
Lower Deck Container/Pallet
A ULD shaped to fit the lower deck cargo compartment. These units come in half sizes and full sizes, related to the width across the airplane.
Less Than Truckload.
A term used by motor carriers to designate small shipments that are handled as loose pieces as opposed to full truckloads.

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Main Deck
The deck on which the major portion of the payload is carried.
Main Deck Container/Pallet
A ULD carried on the main deck. These units come in half sizes and full sizes, related to the width across the airplane.
Information placed on outer surface of shipping containers or packages such as address labels, box specifications, caution, or directional warnings.
Maximum Gross Payload
On a cargo airplane, the maximum weight allowed and available for cargo. It includes the weight of the cargo, containers, pallets, straps and nets.
Maximum Gross Weight, ULD
The maximum allowable combined weight of the ULD and its contents (payload).
Memorandum Tariff
Publications which contain rules and rate information extracted from official tariffs. Memorandum tariffs are published by many carriers and are available from these carriers upon request.
Minimum Charge
The lowest rate applicable on each type of air cargo service no matter how small the shipment.
Minimum Weight
The lowest weight at which a freight rate is applicable (See Weight Break).

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Negotiated Rate
In the U.S., an agreed rate between an airline and a shipper which is not otherwise provided in the current air freight rate tariff. These rates became legal when airfreight was deregulated in November in 1977.
New Weight
The total weight of a shipment less the weight of containers, pallets, nets or straps.
Neutral Air Waybill
A standard air waybill without identification of issuing carrier.
Nonstructural Container
A unit load device composed of a bottomless rigid shell used in combination with a pallet and net assembly.

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Oversize Cargo
Unusually large or heavy cargo that will not fit in the cargo areas of standard-body freighters or passenger airplanes. Cargo the exceeds the standard dimensions of common ULDs.

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A platform of standard dimensions on which goods are assembled and secured by nets and straps before being loaded as a unit onto an airplane. It has a flat undersurface to interface with ball, roller, or caster surfaces.
Pallet Net
A webbing or rope that can be secured to the pallet edges for restraining a pallet load. It may be used with a nonstructural container.
Pickup and Delivery (PU&D)
An optional service for the surface transport of shipments from shipper’s dock to origination air terminal and from the air terminal of destination to receiver’s dock. For airfreight, an additional charge is usually assessed. It may be provide by an air freight forwarder, an integrated carrier, or by an independent truck operator either separately or under contract to an airline.
Pivot Weight
For shipments moving at container rates, it is the weight at which an additional charge is incurred for each pound over the picot weight. For shipments moving at bulk rates, the pivot weight is the weight at which it becomes less costly to pay the minimum charge at the higher weight break, than to pay for the actual weight at the lower weight break.
Port of Entry
An officially designated place at which a U.S. Customs officer is assigned with authority to accept entries of merchandise, to collect duties, and to enforce the various provisions of the U.S. Customs laws.
Prepaid Charges
The transportation trade practice under which the shipper pays transportation charges.
Priority Air Freight
Those shipments that have first claim on available air transport capacity, transported at a premium charge.
Proof of Deliver (P.O.D.)
Information provide to payer containing the name of person who signed for the package with the date and time of delivery.
Protective Service
A protective service provided by airlines where shippers arrange to have a shipment under carrier surveillance tat each stage of transit from origin to destination. The service may extend to pickup and delivery and may include armed guard protection. See Signature Service.

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Restraint System
The system installed in the floor of an airplane compartment that secures the ULD onto the floor to prevent its movement during flight. Also, a net in front of the cargo load to protect the flight crew and/or passengers.
Restricted Articles
An outdated term used to denote Dangerous Goods. These term is no longer used in regulations. See Dangerous Goods and Hazardous Material.
Road Feeder Service (RFS)
Freight service provided by the airlines using motor trucks, generally in conjunction with an air movement.
Roller Ball Transfer
A conveyor system in an airplane or in terminal facilities consisting of various sizes of balls or rollers over which ULDs con be moved.

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Seat Track
A standardized track on the main-deck of an airplane, designed to accept tie-down fittings. It is typically a continuous track capable of accepting tie-down fittings at any of the regularly spaced intervals provided. May also be referred as a cargo track.
The superstructure of any container or igloo.
One or more pieces of freight being transported under the contracted authority of one air waybill.
Shipper’s Exportation Declaration (SED)
A form required for the export of goods from the U.S., when the value of a single shipment of one commodity is more than $1,500, or when an export license is required.
Shipper’s Letter of Instruction
A form used by a shipper to authorize an airline to issue an air waybill on the shipper’s behalf. The for contains all details of shipment and authorizes the airline to sign the air waybill in the name of the shipper.
Signature Service
A service designed to provide continuous responsibility for the custody of shipments in transit, so named because a signature is required from each person handling the shipment at each stage of its transit form origin to destination.
Small Package Service
A specialized service guaranteeing the delivery of small parcels within specified express time limits, e.g. same day or next day. This traffic is subject to size and weight limitations. Most passenger air carriers also provide this service at airport ticket counters with delivery at destination baggage claim area. Often referred to as counter to counter.
Special Rates
Rates that apply to traffic under special conditions in selected makers. Examples of such rates are container rates, exception ratings, and surface-air rates.
Specific Commodity Rates (SCR)
Rates applicable to certain classes of commodities. Usually these rates are applied to commodities that move in large volume shipments in a given market. Hence, specific commodity rates re usually lower than the general commodity rate between the same pair of cities.

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Tare Weight
The actual weight of a container or pallet when empty, including all liners and/or fittings.
Tare Weight Allowance
A free weight allowance given to shippers as part of a unitization incentive program for ULDs.
A document setting forth applicable rules, rates, and charges for the movement of goods. A tariff sets forth a contract of carriage for the shipper, the consignee, and the carrier. Tariffs are sometimes published by the carriers themselves and by a variety of publishing agencies, such as the Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCO), The Air Cargo Tariff (TACT) and Cargo Rates Services, Inc.
See Loading Gauge
Thermal ULD
A ULD built with insulating walls, doors, floor and roof which retard the rate of heat transmission between eh inside and the outside of the ULD.
Tie-down Strap
A strap which secures a load to the ULD or the airplane restraint system.
Time Definite Delivery
Service standards offered by air freight carriers which permit the customer to select a specific time frame for delivery. These service standards provide schedule patterns based on same day, next day, second or third day delivery needs and may include door-to-door, dock-to-dock or airport to airport service.
Commonly a short ton (2,00 lb) as compared to a long or gross ton of 2,240 lb.
Ton Mile
The common measurement of transportation productivity. One ton mile means one ton of cargo flown one mile.
French spelling of ton used in the air industry to denote a metric ton (1,000 kg or 2,204.6 lb).
Tonne Kilometer
The international or metric version of ton mile. One tonne kilometer means one tonne (metric) flown one kilometer.
A carriers system of following and recording movement intervals of shipments from origin to destination.
A towed vehicle with a roller platform for hauling ULDs between the cargo terminal and the airplane. Trailers range from 10-ft dollies to 40-ft ISO-fitted chassis. The roller platform may be powered or unpowered.
Transit Air Cargo Manifest (TACM)
Procedures under which air cargo imports move through the gateway city to the city of final U.S. Customs destination for the collection of duty and other import processing.

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The practice or technique of consolidation many small pieces of freight into a single unit, usually through the use of aniline ULDs.
Unit Load
A number of pieces of freight or cargo in a single box or container, or on a pallet held in place by a net, strapping, or similar device to make them suitable for transporting, stacking, or storage as a unit. It is also a single large item packaged for transporting, stacking, or storage.
Unit Load Device (ULD)
Term commonly used when referring to containers, pallets and pallet nets. The purpose of the ULD is to enable individual pieces of cargo to be assembled into standardized units to ease the rapid loading and unloading of airplanes and to facilitate the transfer of cargo between airplanes have compatible handling and restraint systems.

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Valuation Charges
Transportation charges assessed shippers who declare a value of goods higher than the value of the carriers limits of liability. See Declared Value for Carriage.

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Warsaw Convention
An international multilateral treaty which regulates, in a uniform manner, the conditions of international transportation by air. Among other things, it establishes the international liability of air carriers and establishers the monetary limits for loss, damage, and delay.
Weight and Balance Manual
Specific document for each airplane that controls the type and number of ULDs that can be loaded, their allowable weight and information on alternating loading arrangements.
Weight Break
Weight levels at which the air cargo rate unit decreases as the shipment width increases. Weight breaks normally occur at standard intervals, such as in international shipments 100, 220, 440, 660, 1100, 2200 pounds. Or 45, 100, 200, 300, 500, 1000 kilograms.

Abbreviations and Acronyms Back to Top

Air Cargo, Inc.
Allowable Cabin Load
Air Cargo Resource, Inc.
Articles of Extraordinary Value
Airport Mail Facility
Aircraft on Ground
Air Transport Association of America
Airline Tariff Publishing Company
Air Waybill
Civil Aeronautics Board (Defunct)
Cost Insurance and Freight
Collect on Delivery
Company-Owned Material
Dangerous Goods International
Department of Transportation
Electronic Data Interchange
Estimated Time of Arrival
Federal Aviation Administration
Free Along Side
Freight Tonne Kilometer
Free on Board
General commodity Rates
Greenwich Mean Time
Hazardous Materials
International Air Transport Association
Int’l Civil Aviation Organization
Int’l Organization for Standardization
Just in Time
Letter of Credit
Less Than Truck Load
Not elsewhere Specified
National Transportation Safety board
Official Airline Guide
Other Regulated Material
Pick-up and delivery
Road Feeder Service
Specific Commodity Rate
Shipper’s Export Declaration
Transit Air Cargo Manifest
The Air Cargo Tariff
Unit Load Device
Coordinated Universal Time
World Aviation Directory

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