A cargo aircraft, or freighter, is an aircraft specially designed (or converted from a passenger version) to fly freight and equipment.
Compared to a passenger aircraft, a freighter usually offers larger doors to load freight, and doesn’t offer passenger amenities.
Most of these aircraft are passengers one converted in cargo, such as the Boeing 747F, but some others have been designed as cargo aircraft directly, such as the Airbus A300-600ST as known as the Beluga, providing even more specific features.
Air Cargo transport is the safest and quickest way to deliver goods and equipment, especially for long distances.
The versatility of cargo aircraft fleet on the market makes this solution relevant for heavy or oversize freight, humanitarian equipment, food, precious or fragile goods, as well as live animals (air transport being considered as considered the most humane and expedient method of transportation over long distances for animals).
Air freight only represents roughly 1 percent of the overall freight movements by weight, but for 35% of the total value!
The explanation behind this gap relies on air cargo added value since the demand for air cargo is primarily constrained by the costs, as air cargo services can be up to five times the cost of transporting the goods by road, and up to 16 times the cost of sea transport.
Yet this is the quickest solutions and the safest way to handle “sensitive” (and valuable) freight, such as medicines, flowers, perishable goods or live animals such as young chickens or purebred horses.
The exact same regulations is applied on commercial flights as well as charter flights.
Yet, these regulations are depending on each country.
For instance, in Europe and the US, the minimum third party liability are quite high, regardless of the operating carrier. While for some other countries, this has to be studied case-by-case, considering the routing and the operating carrier.
It is important to know that for non European or American domestic flights, international minimums defined by Warsaw Convention and Montreal Convention are not always enforced.