Lufthansa launches plastic container pilot

LUFTHANSA Cargo and Jettainer have launched a pilot scheme to test the efficacy of using lightweight cargo containers instead of aluminium ones.

“International aviation has used conventional aluminium containers for the transport of cargo and baggage for many decades,” said Jettainer’s managing director, Alexander Plümacher. “With the introduction of new lightweight containers made of composite materials, the global airline industry can reckon to deliver annual fuel savings in the upper double-digit million range.”

The trial of the new containers will investigate how the composite material they are made off impacts on fuel and CO2 savings as well as safety.

A conventional airfreight container made of aluminium weighs about 80 kg while new containers made of composite materials are about 15 per cent lighter. The tests also aim to show whether the new containers need fewer repairs and whether the reduction in idle time due to those repairs will affect the overall quantities of containers needed. Finally, the new containers will also increase work safety by reducing the risk of injury. In contrast to their conventional aluminium counterparts, containers made of composite materials do not produce jagged edges when damaged.

A total of 1,000 containers from four different manufacturers will be used in Lufthansa Cargo’s and Lufthansa’s global route networks for the trial.

“Every kilogramme less of weight on our aircraft saves kerosene – and so also lowers our costs,” explained Karl-Heinz Köpfle, Lufthansa Cargo board member operations.

The pilot scheme will run until autumn 2009.

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