Cargo aircraft

Cargo aircraft

A cargo aircraft (also known as freighters or freight aircraft) is an fixed-wing aircraft designed or converted for the carriage of goods, rather than passengers. They are devoid of passenger amenities, and generally feature one or more large doors for the loading and unloading of cargo. Freighters may be operated by civil passenger or cargo airlines, by private individuals or by the armed forces of individual countries. However most air freight is carried in special ULD containers in the cargo holds of passenger aircraft.

Aircraft designed for cargo use have a number of features that distinguish them from conventional passenger aircraft: a "fat" looking fuselage, a high-wing to allow the cargo area to sit near the ground, a large number of wheels to allow it to land at unprepared locations, and a high-mounted tail to allow cargo to be driven directly into and off the aircraft.


Aircraft were put to use carrying cargo in the form of air mail as early as 1911. Although the earliest aircraft were not designed primarily as cargo carriers, by the mid 1920's airplane manufacturers were designing and building dedicated cargo aircraft.

The earliest "true" cargo aircraft is arguably the World War II German design, the Arado Ar 232. The Ar 232 was intended to supplant the earlier Junkers Ju 52 freighter conversions, but only small numbers were built. Most other forces used freighters in the cargo role as well, most notably the Douglas DC-3, which served with practically every allied nation. Post war Europe also served to play a major role in the development of the modern air cargo and air freight industry during what became known as the "Cold War." It is during the Berlin Airlift at the height of this "Cold War," when a massive mobilization of aircraft was undertaken by the "free world," to supply Germany's citizens with food and supplies, in a virtual around the clock air bridge; after the Soviet Union attempted to close and blockade Berlin's borders and land links to the west.

In the years following the war era a number of new custom-built cargo aircraft were introduced, often including some "experimental" features. For instance, the US's C-82 Packet featured a removable cargo area, while the C-123 Provider introduced the now-common upswept tail. But it was the introduction of the turboprop that allowed the class to mature, and even one of its earliest examples, the C-130 Hercules, is still the yardstick against which newer military transport aircraft designs are measured.


Most conversions are carried out on older aircraft no longer suitable for passenger use, often due to changing safety or noise requirements, or when the aircraft type is considered to have become uncompetitive in passenger airline service, but there is also a market for new-build freighter designs. Freighter aircraft normally have strengthened cabin floors and the inclusion of a broad top-hinged door on the port fuselage in addition to an absence of passenger cabin windows which are "plugged."

The Boeing 747 can be ordered in a freighter version with a large nose door which could be raised above the cockpit for loading. The bulged top deck housing the cockpit was originally designed to allow an unobstructed main deck, and to keep cargo from crushing the pilots in the case of an accident. The interior size of the fuselage is matched to the size of a standard cargo container, stacked two high and two wide.

Other types of specialized civilian cargo aircraft configurations, include the swing-tail Canadair CL-44 and Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter, and the clamshell tail CASA CN-235.


Early Air mail and airlift logistics aircraft

Important "airlift and logistics;" "cargo-liners," "mail-liners," and "mail aircraft."

* Avro Lancastrian (Transatlantic mail)
* Avro York (Berlin Airlift)
* Boeing C-7000
* Curtiss JN4H
* Douglas M-2

Civilian Cargo/Freight Aircraft

*Aero Spacelines Super Guppy
*Airbus A320 (Conversions)
*Airbus A300
*Airbus A310
*Airbus A330
*Airbus A380F
*Airbus Beluga
*Antonov An-225 Mriya (the largest and heaviest aircraft in the world)
*Antonov Antonov An-124
*Boeing 727
*Boeing 737 (Conversions)
*Boeing 757
*Boeing 767
*Boeing 747 Freighter
*Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter (Dreamlifter)
*Boeing 777 Freighter
*Boeing MD-10
*Douglas DC-3
*Douglas DC-9
*McDonnell Douglas DC-10
*McDonnell Douglas MD-11
*Short Belfast

Light aircraft

*Cessna Caravan - freight door and belly pod equipped
*Shorts 330 - drop ramp and twin tailed / vertical stabilizer

Military Cargo Aircraft

"See: Military transport aircraft"

Experimental Cargo Aircraft

*Hughes H-4 Hercules ("Spruce Goose")
*Lockheed R6V Constitution
*LTV XC-142

ee also

* Air transport
* Airlift (military)
* Cargo airline
* DeHavilland DH-4


* [ Cargo aircraft comparison chart.] Specifications for commercial cargo aircraft

External links

* [ Airlift Cargo Aircraft]
* [ History of the Airmail Service]
* [ Indo-Russian Transport Aircraft (IRTA)]

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