VRR offers innovative ULD solutions

posted on 19th November 2019
VRR offers innovative ULD solutions

Rotterdam, Netherlands-based VRR had a very busy show. The ULD supplier unveiled an innovative collapsible AAY container at inter airport, and announced that ULD lessor ACL Airshop will be the launch customer for the new product. It also showed off its inflatable – and award-winning – air5 ULD

VRR’s collapsible AAY container is designed to meet a particular challenge that the air freight industry faces today: namely, the imbalances in ULD container stocks across airlines’ international networks. Those imbalances – lack of stock at some stations, too much at others – mean that empty ULDs often have to be returned or sent on to other airline stations once they have completed their immediate mission; yet they are bulky and require the capacity of sometimes empty aircraft to carry them on their return or onward journey (or they may be carried by sea, a slow process).

Collapsible containers like the VRR AAY can be stacked one on top of another, taking up far less room on the lower deck of an otherwise occupied passenger aircraft or, indeed, on a truck. In fact, up to 24 of them can be moved on a single standard European-type truck used for these sorts of loads, compared to perhaps six standard ULDs, VRR asserts.

When folded, the container is seven times smaller than its built-up form, and has a height of only 255mm. It weighs just 280kg. The units can be stacked up to four high on the B737F main deck, and six high on the lower deck of a widebody aircraft. On land, the units can be stored up to six high.

Thus, says Jos Jacobsen, ACL Airshop’s managing director Europe, global leasing & technology, these collapsible containers represent significantly reduced logistics costs for their users. For ACL Airshop, which has a fleet of some 60,000 ULDs, its numerous customers have plenty to gain, he points out.

VRR does offer other collapsible containers – namely horse containers – but this collapsible ULD is the first larger, maindeck general cargo container of its type. Jacobsen enthuses that the new container is “light and flexible. It’s one of a kind. There is nothing else like it in anywhere in the world.”

ACL is also expecting to equip each of its collapsible AAY containers with tracking technology to ensure that users know where each of them is located at any given moment.

Ben Lakerveld, VRR’s sales manager, explains that the collapsible AAY has been specifically developed with the needs of the burgeoning e-commerce market in mind, and in particular for the integrators that support that traffic with their huge fleets of B737 or similar narrowbody freighters.

Jacobsen adds: “Embracing the development of this collapsible AAY container and being the first to market them for our ULD lease fleet is a logical step forward in optimising our management capabilities.

“E-commerce is becoming an integral part of our society, and the AAY has proven itself as a very good cargo carrier. In order to save on logistics we can now move the AAY container in larger quantities using less volume. This will save time and money for the airline and the end consumer.”


Back on the stand, Lakerveld pointed to another innovative VRR design, an inflatable AKE ULD called air5. With a fixed base and only one rigid side, it can be folded flat when not in use. The air5 can be automatically inflated in less than a minute. It can then be quickly deflated and laid flat in just a couple of minutes.

Unlike the collapsible AAY, the inflatable VRR AKE container is intended for cargo carriage on the lower deck of airlines’ big widebodies, but it also addresses that problem of imbalance in ULD stocks at carriers’ various hub stations. It weighs just 68kg, and can be stacked five-high in the lower deck hold of a widebody aircraft.

air5 was first demonstrated at the World Cargo Symposium (WCS) in Singapore some months ago, but already VRR is working on a second, improved version that is expected to be ready for commercial sale next year. The current air5 model is not yet certified, but the new one will be.

Recognising its innovative design, the air5 ULD was awarded the interDESIGN award at this year’s inter airport.