The world’s first prototype of the inflatable AKE container was launched to great applaud by VRR during the 13th World Cargo Symposium in Singapore (March 2019). And it’s going to be a game changer.
A solution to the air cargo imbalance problem
The Air5 is seen by many as the answer to the current problem of global air cargo imbalance on many trade lanes. The cost of unproductive overstock and the inconvenience of understock give ULD fleet managers a real headache. However, VRR is convinced that the Air5 is the solution they have been waiting for. It seems others are also convinced. VRR has been swamped by interest from around the world ever since the launch of the prototype.
The prototype demonstrated clearly to rapt audiences just how clever VRR’s designers and engineers have been in developing this unique ULD. The inflatable AKE container, which weighs approximately 69kg (152 lbs), inflates automatically in just 30 seconds. Air pressure expands the container and pushes it into its final shape. Collapsing the container doesn’t take much longer. It takes two minutes and two people to release the air and fold in the sides.
Optimising costs and increasing capacity utilisation
The fact that the Air5 is collapsible means fleet managers no longer have to wait for a consignment of cargo to make the return journey economically viable. When folded, up to five inflatable AKE containers can be stacked on the lower deck of regular wide body aircraft.
The repositioning of ULDs has never been so easy or cost-effective, according to Geert van Riemsdijk, CEO of VRR: “Current alternatives such as returning empty containers by sea are expensive and time consuming. Once our customers start incorporating the inflatable AKE container into their fleet, they’ll no longer use these alternatives.”
Inflatable design makes no concession to quality
Despite the ingenious construction of the Air5, no concessions have been made to the inflatable container’s weight, robustness, strength or safety. VRR achieved this by applying materials and techniques they had developed in creating specialised ULDs for extremely demanding or hostile environments.
Fleet managers can, therefore, be confident that this collapsible version will stand up to the rigours of air transportation, just like any of the other quality ULDs made by VRR. Of course, this is just the prototype. The final product will follow in due course. Geert explains:
“The Air5 and its successors will be a target product for our new collapsible and inflatable product line, which will be released in 2020. In the meantime, we’ll continue to make improvements to the Air5, like reduce its folding height and make it weatherproof. We’ve also got to make it ready for series production and certification and do some real-life testing with select customers.”
More info on the inflatable AKE?
VRR expects to have the final certified version of its inflatable AKE container available by Q1 2020, as part of the We keep it small product family. Series production will start thereafter in 2020. If you’d like to know more about the inflatable AKE or if you would like to be involved in the test phase of the certified version, please contact a VRR specialist via firstname.lastname@example.org.