Targeted Pallet Building Reduces Flights, Increases Cargo

A new tact of building pallet loads to optimize fit in specific cargo planes rather than a more generic approach has delivered an 8% increase in pallet optimization for the Air Mobility Command, according to the Air Force Times.

Mobility airmen have shifted from building pallets that fit on any plane to building ones for each airframe. By using space more efficiently, they’re helping to cut the number of supply flights — in turn, reducing fuel costs and freeing up aircraft for missions downrange.

“We set very specific goals for all of the types of pallets that we could build for every type of plane we could use,” Randy Finney, AMC’s functional cargo manager, said in a telephone interview from command headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. “It’s just not good enough to build them big and fast. We need to build them for specifically what the demand is.”

Logisticians often build pallets that can fit on a variety of planes — but don’t fill up the space. Wanting to make better use of the cargo compartments, AMC officials reached out to industry officials.

“If we’re going to put a pallet on a 747, I can build a pretty tall, boxlike pallet,” Finney said. “But if I’m going to put a pallet on an MD-11, a narrow-body aircraft, I need to have a contoured pattern for that airframe. So rather than build a pallet to, say, the lowest common denominator, we wanted to set new goals for the absolute maximum for each type of airlift that we have.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that the Air Force hopes to save $500 million over the next five years by reducing fuel and energy consumption within Air Mobility Command.

Air Force planes use 79 percent of the Defense Department’s energy usage, and mobility aircraft use about 60 percent of the service’s aviation fuel consumption.

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