Impact Publications : Aircargo_235
Page 20 • AirCArgo AsiA-PACifiC • FEBRUARY-MARCH 2015 Want to be a cargo loadmaster? Well, according to pprune, the job has a lot of ups and downs THE AVIATION forum pprune, renowned for its frank bellyache comments by pilots and others in aviation, has been carrying an interesting thread about cargo loadmasters of late. It all began when a 29-year old British load controller calling himself/herself E195 comment- ed on the Freight Dogs section of the chatroom that “I fancy a change to get more hands on and I love flying. “So I’m thinking cargo loadmaster might be the way to go and get into. “Just wondering what the lifestyle is like and any stories you guys have?” A Malaysia-based commenta- tor responded that “when you’re away from base, especially in more remote areas, you’ll have to do everything it takes to get the load on. Totally different from working from a fixed base where you know everyone and are confident of the process. “It’s simple enough to say that the load is not acceptable (pallet not loaded properly, nets with too big gaps, weight not spread out over pal- lets), but you need to fix it otherwise your employer will find someone else who can do the job and get the load on to its destination. “You also need to be creative in solving issues, not to mention have negotiating skills; this will help when dealing with loaders, shippers etc. “Be observant, a five tonne pallet will move dif- ferently to a two tonne pallet...this can save your skin one day. “You need to be well up to speed on your tie- down and shoring to identify problems. Freighters usually carry weird stuff and each needs to be analysed.” Another commentator noted that “depending on the aircraft, a good loadmaster is fairly knowl- edgeable about mechanical things. I suppose on the big jets at big airports, everything will be pro- vided for you and is fairly straightforward but in the remote areas on big turboprops in the middle of nowhere, you are going to have to estimate weights of unusual items and decide on loading and balance and how to get the damn stuff on board using ingenuity. “Remember that fuel really likes to somehow leak out of old (or new) vehicles or that even though the weight of a particular empty fuel truck may be in your book on weights of vehicles and machin- ery, it may have a couple of thousand pounds of accumulated sand from the past 40 years inside. “Be ready to sweat or freeze, and be really cautious. I have seen loads being winched off an aircraft suddenly move sideways fast enough to squash anybody beside them. It can be dan- gerous.” From another freight dog: “Caution also to HAZMAT, it is a wild world out there and customers of ACMI airlines will not always catch things as simple as not loading flammables and corro- sives on the same pallet. “As a flight mechanic, a loadmaster was my wing man, always there to hold a flashlight when needed and I was always there to keep eyes on things he did not have time to oversee. Best pilots I have ever worked with were in the ACMI world. It is a great life for the young or single man in my experience.” And another: “Be prepared to load the plane. Check all the paperwork. Track down the flight plans. Do the weight and balance all on no sleep. It’s not uncommon to be on the plane with the mechanics for two or three days before you see a hotel or shower. “I have been lucky so far on this trip - a 24 hour trip to the Middle East, 10 days in a hotel doing noth- ing, then a 48 hour day back to the states. “It’s a good job. Just have to take the good with the bad.” Others pointed to the absolute need for a really strong sense of humour. And one current loadmaster noted that “you’ll also need to be a champion beer drinker”. All good fun and an insight into a relatively little known – and until quite recently vitally important - aspect of the air cargo sector. Bottom line, however, is that the would-be loadmaster has only a lim- ited chance of securing the position he dreams about, given the dwindling number of airborne loadmasters as agent and ground handling systems become increasingly sophisticated at either end of a flight and e-pathways more accurate and dependable. A good loadmaster is fairly knowledgeable about mechanical things...