The DO’s of ULD Handling

Modern psychology tells us time and again that it’s far far better to provide positive rather than negative reinforcements for any required practices and it seems sensible enough that this would also apply to any aspect of ULD operations. It is of course somewhat easier to come up with a list of DONT’s:  Don’t use a forklift, Do not drop the container, Don’t stack the container, etc.  and the list goes on and on… Ironically, the industry has been marking containers with DO NOT FORKLIFT signs for years with little enough in the way of results to show from it.

As an initiative to support the use of positive messages on the subject of ULD operations to the industry at large, ULD CARE has created a list which contains two Top Level Requirements, 11 Secondary Requirements and about 50 Detailed Implementation Requirements, which are included at the end of this article in a table format, please feel free to incorporate any of this content into any of your guidance material, operating manuals and training materials.

You might be asking yourself if such an approach can make any difference.  ULD CARE believes the answer is yes, not only because this kind of approach has not really been put into practice previously but also because there are examples of airlines where a highly disciplined approach to ULD operations can and does lead to greatly reduce damage and greatly increase safety.

It is also worthwhile to suggest that this list might be well used alongside the recently announced IATA ULD Safety Campaign, with its video and posters.  The downloadable poster artwork can work well together with this list of DO’s, providing a level of best practice guidance that the industry has not seen before.


Top Level  Requirement

Secondary Requirement

Detailed Implementation Requirement

DO respect that ULD are aircraft parts, to be used according to written procedures  and only  in serviceable condition




DO  inspect all ULD for damage before commencing build up




DO inspect all parts of the ULD before use for any damage



DO refer to ODLN or other manufacturers data for information on maximum allowed damage



DO carry out any temporary repair only if allowed by airline procedures



DO identify any unserviceable ULD as damaged and store separately from serviceable ULD



DO inspect ULD for damaged hand ( pull) straps


DO  follow required procedure during ULD build up




DO apply  ULD limits of contour limits and Centre of Gravity limits



DO apply aircraft limits for Max Gross Weight, area load and running load



DO apply cargo straps for any item which by weight or configuration requires individual restraint



DO close  and lock container doors securely



Do position and tighten pallet net correctly


DO carry out final ship side visual serviceability check before loading ULD to aircraft


DO carry out ULD ground handling without damage to the ULD




DO carry out any ULD storage operations such that ULD are protected from damage




DO store built up ULD on dollies or racking equipped with rollers/ball mats and of appropriate size/configuration



DO store empty ULD on dollies or racking or on a temporary basis only in a designated storage area on spacers on the ground or stacked maximum 2 high






DO store cargo nets individually in bags and protected from dirt, moisture and UV



DO position cargo nets permanently attached to pallets towards the centre of the pallet with all loose net inside the pallet periphery



DO roll up, store and protect  cargo straps from dirt, moisture and UV


DO carry out temporary storage of ULD outside of racking according to procedures to protect the ULD from damage




DO temporarily store ULD in a designated storage area, safe from damage by vehicles, GSE, wind and jet blast etc.



DO place spacers underneath any container being placed at ground level or stacked on another container



DO only stack containers 2 high



DO provide proper supervision of temporary ULD storage


DO carry out ULD movement and transport operations such that ULD are protected from damage




DO move built up ULD on dollies or racking equipped with rollers/ball mats



DO secure ULD against horizontal and vertical movement by engaging all locks/stoppers



DO transport ULD on dollies within speed limits



DO set up dolly trains so ULD with overhangs do not contact other ULD or fixed objects


DO pay special attention to securing ULD when transporting on road vehicles




DO secure ULD by the base



DO fit any additional restraint without damage to the ULD


DO build up and break down ULD using sufficient care and attention




DO take care of the ULD



DO secure container door(s) in open position



DO place the empty ULD on a level roller deck/ball mat



DO place plastic sheeting on ULD base before loading cargo



Do place heavy items in the centre and low down



DO build up cargo in a stable and interlocking manner



DO build overhanging loads in a stable manner



DO place cargo so that it does not block the edge rails of a pallet or the closed door of a container



DO place plastic sheeting over the load before installing the pallet net


DO close doors/apply net correctly




DO completely close container door(s) and engage all locking devices fully



DO ensure closed door is within ULD contour



DO attach pallet net to pallet using all fittings spaced equally along the pallet sides



DO place the net evenly over the load



DO gather excess netting using reefing hooks



DO close corners using only original OEM lashing devices



DO apply only sufficient tension to hold the net securely in place around the load



DO secure all loose ends of netting/straps


DO attach ULD Tag



DO break down ULD using sufficient care and attention




DO take care of the ULD



DO secure doors in open position



DO remove straps and loose pallet  nets and place in secure storage



DO place permanently attached nets towards centre of pallet



DO remove any loose items, spreader boards, plastic sheet



DO inspect ULD for damage before placing in storage

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