How to Transport Aircraft Engines
Proven Methods to Transport Aircraft Engines
So how do you transport aircraft engines? You have a multi-million dollar asset ready to go, but it’s across the continent from your downed aircraft, customer, MRO facility, etc. You can’t FedEx these things (no offence to anyone who has tried). Rail transportation isn’t convenient and will probably damage the engine with uneven track surfaces and the jarring impacts of rail cars connecting (again, no offence to anyone who has tried).
What about air transportation? It seems slightly ironic to put an aircraft engine on a plane, but plausible. While this is the preferred method to transport aircraft engines overseas, within continental North America it is not feasible to find a large wide-body cargo aircraft that is available at a moment’s notice.
Since the Octo-Copter is still in beta testing and it may take a few years to iron out the kinks in our teleportation device, what is the best way to transport aircraft engines?
Jet engine transportation via ground is still the most cost-effective and convenient method of shipping your highest-value assets. Trucks can be dispatched at a moment’s notice and are capable to accessing almost any location in North America for emergency AOG events. In addition, full-air ride tractors and trailers provide a smooth ride, minimizing the potential for damage to sensitive calibrations.
Here are some industry-accepted best practices that IMT considers an essential part of the entire aircraft engine loading and securement procedure.
- Hanger Ready Truck and Trailer – beyond just having clean and presentable equipment, we are always concerned about FOD (foreign object and debris) material when we are “air-side” at an airport. It is essential to police both the truck and trailer to ensure there are no screws, tools or road debris that could potentially cause damage to an airplane.
- Proper Engine Stand Securement – the most important aspect of transporting an engine is how it is secured to the deck. Engines are mounted on cradles, in the same way they would be mounted on the wing of an aircraft. These cradles have shock mounts that allow the cradle to move with the normal oscillations of a truck and trailer in transit. If the cradle is improperly secured, these shock mounts could be restricted, causing damage to the sensitive calibrations of the engine bearings.
- Tarping – IMT utilizes fitted tarps specifically designed for small to large aircraft engines. These tarps fit the engine perfectly and are secured using rubber straps with no metal on them. Proper tarping is essential to protect the engine from weather and road debris.
- Cargo Security – IMT participates in a variety of security and anti-terrorism programs to ensure the safety of all aircraft components in transit. Our drivers follow a variety of procedures including never disclosing the nature or destination of aircraft cargo in transit.
While a truck and trailer is still the best method to transport aircraft engines, not every transport company is qualified to ship such sensitive components. In the past 20 years we have seen and heard many horror stories of improperly secured aircraft engines on the road. Tarps flapping and exposing parts of the engine, to even a strap being thrown over the top of an engine and cinched tight.
If an engine is even suspected of being damaged, it is a minimum $150,000 diagnostic and inspection, not including the price tag if they find anything wrong with it.
There are many wrong ways and only a few right ways to transport an aircraft engine, ensure you are using a carrier with the experience and expertise necessary to protect your high-value assets.