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​An essential element of flight safety

A Unit Load Device (ULD) is either an aircraft pallet and pallet net combination, or an aircraft container. ULDs are removable aircraft parts subject to strict civil aviation authorities’ requirements from design, testing, production, and operations, to repair and maintenance. An airworthy ULD must be structurally capable of restraining the loads and providing adequate protection to the aircraft systems and structure during flight.

ULDs are the only aircraft parts that leave the control of the airline, return after passing through many unregulated hands, and have an impact on flight safety. As most ULD operations are outsourced to ground service providers, together with the increasing demands for "shipper-built ULD" from shippers and freight forwarders, it has become critically challenging for airlines to control and supervise the safety compliance in ULD operations.

2023 UPDATES: IATA manuals include all necessary information about new regulations taking effect as of January 1, 2023 and how they impact the shipment and handling of air cargo. Learn more

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ULD Safety Campaign

With about 1 million aircraft ULDs in service representing a replacement value of over USD 1 billion, ULDs are expensive assets that require correct handling. Many people in the industry do not know that ULDs are aircraft parts and directly contribute to flight safety.

Our ULD Safety Campaign aims to raise industry-wide awareness on these five central issues:

  • ULDs are aircraft parts subject to safety and airworthiness requirements
  • Correct ULD handling contributes to flight safety
  • Every stakeholder must commit to its safety responsibility and ensure ULD training requirements are met
  • Proper ULD handling also reduces costs and improves efficiency
  • IATA ULD Regulations (ULDR) is an acceptable means to facilitate industry compliance

This campaign initiates and supports an industry-wide safety improvement, as well as a reduction of an estimated USD 475 million in industry costs and more secure transportation of ULDs.

Campaign Resources

Become a ULD champion and campaign ambassador by sharing IATA materials through your chosen communication channels to help raise awareness on the safety of ULDs. These materials are prepared for printed posters, your website, social media, presentations, training materials, and your other publications.

You can download the full artwork package (pdf). These posters include critical messages for ULD operational staff and senior management and are free to share. For customized visuals (i.e., including your company logo or translated into your local language), please contact us.

Improving ULD Management

Every year, the total cost of both repair and loss of ULDs is estimated at USD 330 million, excluding the costs associated with aircraft damages, flight delays, and cancelations due to ULD operations. However, ULD training requirements, operating standards, and procedures, as well as handling best practices, vary enormously across the industry, ranging from excellent to non-existent.

Making sure the right ULD is available in the right place at the right time in the right conditions is critical for airline operations and revenue management. The IATA ULD Board (ULDB) develops and maintains standards and procedures concerning the specifications, handling, restraint, and maintenance of ULDs. Besides, it promotes global recognition, adoption of, and adherence to those standards and procedures.

IATA ULD Regulations (ULDR)

The IATA ULD Regulations (ULDR) covers both technical and operational standards and regulatory requirements as well as the carrier's requirements applicable to overall ULD operations.

The ULDR provides:

  • Common regulatory requirements from ICAO and national CAAs, as well as aircraft Weight & Balance Manual, are applicable to ULD
  • Minimum standard specifications for designing, testing, performance, and manufacturing ULDs that conform to IATA, ISO, SAE, and other national and international standards
  • Essential and detailed guidelines for all aspects of ULD operations such as serviceability check, build-up/break-down, transport, transfer, and storage
  • Training requirements and standards
  • Supporting material for airlines creating operations manuals containing ULD-related content

ULD Board

The ULD Board (ULDB) develops standards and procedures concerning the technical and operating specifications, handling, restraint, and maintenance of Unit Load Devices (ULDs), and promotes the worldwide recognition, adoption of, and adherence to those standards and procedures.


  • Development of specifications and other technical standards relating to the construction and maintenance of ULD
  • Development of standards and procedures relating to all aspects of ULD operations
  • Development of procedures and requirements for new ULD Contour Code application and allocation
  • Development of standards for the application of automatic identification technology to ULDs in conjunction with other Cargo Services Conference (CSC) subgroups
  • Maintenance of the liaison with other CSC boards, external organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE), and Airports Council International (ACI), as well as relevant government authorities, to ensure alignment and harmonization of international standards and regulatory requirements
  • Development and promotion of the IATA ULD Regulations (ULDR)
  • Development of requirements for documentation/ messaging for ULD operations
  • Development of standard training requirements to facilitate safety compliance
  • Development and promotion of standards and procedures for ULD logistics management and control
  • Coordination of industry-wide liaison with aircraft manufacturers and manufacturers of ULD and accessories, Ground Support Equipment (GSE), Cargo Loading Systems (CLS), cargo terminal and warehouse facilities, etc. in order to ensure safe, compliant and efficient ULD operations

Composition and Frequency of Meetings

The ULDB is open to IATA Member airlines and subscribers of the IATA Strategic Partnership Program (SPP) in the ULD Area of Involvement.
The ULDB meeting is open to any CSC Members provided the observer request is received and approved prior to the meeting.
ULDB consists of up to 12 members appointed by CSC, each being an expert in the ULD technical and/ or operational area, and each serving on the ULDB for a period of four years. ULDB face-to-face meetings are normally held twice a year in conjunction with SAE AGE-2 Air Cargo Committee meeting, ISO TC20/SC9 plenary meeting, or other meeting/event with similar topics and attendees.


ULD Technical Advisory Group (ULDTAG)
ULD Operational Advisory Group (ULDOAG)

Industry Affiliations

ULDB collaborates and engages closely with industry stakeholders such as regulators, standard organizations, industry associations and individual experts to ensure the relevance of the ULDR. The ULDB meeting is open to the following parties as observers:
  • Relevant civil aviation authorities such as CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China), EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
  • SAE AGE-2 members when ULDB is held in conjunction
  • ISO TC 20/ SC9 members when ULDB is held in conjunction
  • IATA Strategic Partnership Program (SPP) members (ULD Area of Involvement)
  • IATA Ground Handling Council (IGHC) members
  • FIATA (International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations) members

The ULDB Secretary provides input and updates to various other IATA groups and publications such as IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit), ISAGO (IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations), ICHM (IATA Cargo Handling Manual), AHM/ IGOM (Airport Handling Manual/ IATA Ground Operations Manual), and TACT (The Air Cargo Tariff and Rules).

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