​An essential element of flight safety

A Unit Load Device (ULD) is either an aircraft pallet and pallet net combination, or an aircraft container. ULDs are removable aircraft parts subject to strict civil aviation authorities’ requirements from design, testing, production, and operations, to repair and maintenance. An airworthy ULD must be structurally capable of restraining the loads and providing adequate protection to the aircraft systems and structure during flight.

ULDs are the only aircraft parts that leave the control of the airline and return after passing through many unregulated hands, as most ULD operations are outsourced to ground service providers. Together with the increasing demands for "shipper-built ULD" from shippers and freight forwarders, it has become critically challenging for airlines to control and supervise the ULD operations.

2022 UPDATES: IATA Manuals include all necessary information about new regulations taking effect as of January 1, 2022 and how they impact the shipment and handling of air cargo. 

ULD Safety Campaign

With about 1 million aircraft ULDs in service representing a replacement value of over USD 1 billion, ULDs are expensive assets that require correct handling. Many people in the industry do not know that ULDs are aircraft parts and directly contribute to flight safety.

Our ULD Safety Campaign aims to raise industry-wide awareness on these five central issues:

  • ULDs are aircraft parts subject to safety and airworthiness requirements
  • Correct ULD handling contributes to flight safety
  • Every stakeholder must commit to its safety responsibility and ensure ULD training requirements are met
  • Proper ULD handling also reduces costs and improves efficiency
  • IATA ULD Regulations (ULDR) is an acceptable means to facilitate industry compliance

This campaign initiates and supports an industry-wide safety improvement, as well as a reduction of an estimated USD 475 million in industry costs and more secure transportation of ULDs.

Can't view this in your region? Check out the .

Campaign Resources

Become a ULD champion and campaign ambassador by sharing IATA materials through your chosen communication channels to help raise awareness on the safety of ULDs. These materials are prepared for printed posters, your website, social media, presentations, training materials, and your other publications.

You can download the full artwork package (pdf). These posters include critical messages for ULD operational staff and senior management and are free to share. For customized visuals (i.e., including your company logo or translated into your local language), please contact us.

Improving ULD Management

Every year, the total cost of both repair and loss of ULDs is estimated at USD 330 million, excluding the costs associated with aircraft damages, flight delays, and cancelations due to ULD operations. However, ULD training requirements, operating standards, and procedures, as well as handling best practices, vary enormously across the industry, ranging from excellent to non-existent.

Making sure the right ULD is available in the right place at the right time in the right conditions is critical for airline operations and revenue management. The IATA ULD Board (ULDB) develops and maintains standards and procedures concerning the specifications, handling, restraint, and maintenance of ULDs. Besides, it promotes global recognition, adoption of, and adherence to those standards and procedures.

IATA ULD Regulations (ULDR)

The IATA ULD Regulations (ULDR) covers both technical and operational standards and regulatory requirements as well as the carrier's requirements applicable to overall ULD operations.

The ULDR provides:

  • Common requirements from ICAO and national CAAs, as well as aircraft Weight & Balance Manual, requirements applicable to ULD
  • Minimum standard specifications for designing and manufacturing ULDs that conform to IATA, ISO, SAE, and other national and international standards
  • Essential and detailed guidelines for all aspects of ULD operations
  • Training requirements and standards
  • Supporting material for airlines creating operations manuals containing ULD related content