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Airlift Preparation

This page describes the Equipment Preparation Course. You can use the following bookmarks to navigate to the subject you are                                                                                           interested in.                        

Supported Force Responsibilities

The user is responsible for preparing cargo so that it is suitable for airlift. AMC will act in an advisory capacity only,

and should not be expected to prepare a user's equipment for them. A self-supporting unit moves quickly and incurs

fewer problems than the unit that relies heavily on AMC support. Cargo custodians are responsible for controlling and

safeguarding cargo, and troop commanders assume responsibility for all passengers en route, and will be provided by

the deploying unit (ref AMCP 36-1, p. 16-18).


Marshalling is defined as the orderly assembly, organization, and movement of personnel and equipment from the unit to

the aircraft. In the Unit Area, equipment is identified, prioritized, sequenced, and consolidated; then inspected for

serviceability, cleanliness, and air worthiness; and any hazardous materials are identified and documented. The Assembly

Area is where cargo is checked in and assembled by aircraft loads (chalks). Joint Inspection is the process where the

transported unit and the unit assigned to provide airlift conduct a final check over of equipment and documentation.

The Ready Line is where cargo is isolated in a separate holding area to await aircraft loading (p. 21).


The 463L System includes the 463L Pallet to load cargo on, and a Dual Rail System of floor rollers and rail guides in AMC

aircraft. The 463L pallet is a 88" x 108" aluminum skinned board with rings along the sides, allowing cargo to be strapped

down to it using top and side cargo nets, or tiedown straps. The Dual Rail System allows pallets to be guided into position

inside the aircraft, with the side rails providing lateral and vertical restraint, and detent locks holding the pallet securely

in place once inside to prevent forward and aft movement of the pallets during flight (p. 33).

Picture of a loaded 463L Pallet

Materials Handling Equipment (MHE)

Materials handling equipment (MHE) is used to package, handle, or transport cargo in preparation for air shipment. It

includes Forklifts, K-Loaders, Wide Body Loaders, and Miscellaneous Support Equipment.

Forklifts are used to lift, transport, and stack cargo or equipment. They are able to carry and move one pallet at a time

and are used to load larger loaders or bring pallets from the ready line to the aircraft. If they have rollerized tines, the

pallet can roll directly from the forklift to the dual rail system inside the plane. The 4K forklift is used for loading and

unloading pallets or secondary loads on vehicles, but due to short tines and limited capacity (4,000 pounds max) it cannot

handle palletized 463L cargo. The 6K forklift is considerably larger, and can handle 463L pallets up to 6,000 pounds.

The 10K is the most capable and available forklift in the airlift inventory, and can lift and transport 10,000 pounds of cargo

or pallets onto aircraft. The 10K AT forklift (picture)  may have either 10,000 or 13,000 pounds capability, and is designed for

adverse terrain (p. 45-46).

K-Loaders provide the capability to rapidly onload and offload multiple 463L pallets from airlift aircraft. They are

self-propelled transportation platforms with rollerized decks able to raise, lower, or tilt forward or aft, permitting

precise alignment with aircraft floors. Their quantity and availability is limited and they are difficult to transport due

to their size and weight. The 25K-Loader can lift and transport three 463L pallets up to a maximum of 25,000 pounds;

it is the most available K-Loader. The TAC-Loader can be modified with extensions to load and carry five pallets with

a weight of 25,000 pounds on unimproved surfaces, and 36,000 pounds on paved surfaces; it is the easiest of the loaders

to transport by air. The 40K-Loader (picture) can lift and transport five pallets and loads up to 40,000 pounds. The 60K-Loader

has the ability to lift and transport up to six pallets or 60,000 pounds; it is the most versatile of all the K-Loaders, and can

replace all K-Loaders and wide body loaders (p. 49-50).

Wide Body Loaders are used as high lifts for wide body aircraft (B-747, DC-10, KC-10) that do not have cargo loading

ramps and whose cargo floors are too high for forklifts and K-Loaders to reach. Wide Body Loaders can lift cargo and

pallets up to the cargo door, but cannot transport cargo along horizontal surfaces. The 316A Cochran Loader can lift

25,000 pounds and accommodate two 463L pallets; it usually supports KC-10 operations. The 316E Cochran Loader (picture)

can lift 40,000 pounds and will accommodate two 463L pallets; it is the most commonly used and available wide body loader.

The CL-3 Wilson Loader can lift 40,000 pounds and will hold three 463L pallets; it is the newest of the wide body loaders

(p. 51-52).

Miscellaneous Support Equipment includes Pusher Vehicles modified with front mounted pintle hooks (picture) to 

load vehicles and trailers up the cargo ramp into the aircraft; Rollerized Flatbed Trucks and Pallet Dollies to aid pallet

buildup, storing, and transporting; and Portable Stairs (picture) to load passenger and crew aboard aircraft (p. 52-53).

Shoring Requirements

Shoring consists of layers of plywood used to distribute weight along the aircraft floor or decrease the approach angle of

the cargo loading ramp. It provides load spreading by distributing a concentrated weight over a larger area. Rolling shoring

protects the loading ramp and cargo floor of the aircraft from damage, and parking shoring protects the aircraft floor from

damage during flight. This kind of shoring is usually required for tracked vehicles, steel wheels, or trailer tongues (p. 62-63).

Approach Shoring is approved shoring to decrease the approach angle of aircraft loading ramps. This is because some items

of cargo will strike the aircraft or ground during loading/offloading operations. This kind of shoring is often used with

vehicles with low clearance, long tall vehicles, or vehicles with long overhangs from the rear tires

(picture of approach shoring) (p. 66).

Weighing and Marking Cargo

All cargo must be weighed and marked with the center of balance (CB). Accurate gross weight and CB marking is absolutely

essential to planning safe loads. While fairly straightforward, it can get complex and is often problematic; spot checks show

that weights are commonly off by thousands of pounds. The course reviews procedures and repeatedly practices them for

multi-axle vehicles, where the distance and weight on each axle is averaged from the front to determine how far back the

center of balance is. Usually, the CB of empty trucks is forward of center for empty trucks due to the engine, and aft of

center for loaded trucks due to cargo.