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16-1. INTRODUCTION. This chapter gives an overview of planning and loading aircraft. For detailed information on documentation and loading specific cargoes aboard aircraft, refer to FM 55-9 and DOD 4500.9-R, Part III Mobility.

16-2. AIR MOBILITY COMMAND. Personnel who prepare load plans must be familiar with the types and characteristics of available aircraft.

    a. Cargo handlers must be familiar with the C-130, C-141, C-17, KC-10A and the C-5 aircraft. All five aircraft are designed primarily as transport aircraft. Their cargo compartments can be configured to accommodate general bulk or palletized cargo, vehicles, and troops. The wide range of cargo carried by these aircraft, along with the many combinations of loads, provides great flexibility in moving troops and equipment. All five aircraft have long-range mission capability, possess roller-conveyor systems for using the 463L pallet system, and have hydraulic ramp systems for ease of loading and off-loading.

    b. Movement of the MILVAN container in Air Force aircraft requires restraint of the container to a platform compatible with the 463L handling system. The 463L pallet will be used as a logistic mobility platform.

16-3. AIRCRAFT LOADING DATA. Some general rules of loading apply to all aircraft.

    a. General Data. The following are some loading considerations for cargo handlers:

NOTE: Refer to FM 55-9 for guidance for loading unit cargo aboard AMC aircraft.

      (1) Plan to move general bulk cargo (boxes, crates) on the backs of cargo-carrying trucks or trailers.

      (2) Use only forklifts rated at a lifting capacity equal to or greater than the cargo being loaded. The minimum tine length of the forks is 72 inches for ground handling of 463L pallets.

      (3) The amount cargo loaded in the beds of trucks or in trailers should not exceed the allowable loads listed in DOD 4500.9-R, Part III Mobility.

      (4) Use a minimum of 3/4 inch shoring when loading a track vehicle with metal cleats, studs, or other gripping devices that will damage the aircraft floor.

      (5) Do not deflate vehicle tires to reduce vehicle height. Pneumatic tires inflated at a level of 100 psi or less do not require parking shoring if parked on the aircraft treadways. Tires inflated over 100 psi will be treated as hard rubber tires and may require parking shoring according to floor limitations.

      (6) Do not use book weight or dimensions of items for weight and balance purposes when actual flying will take place. Use scale weight.

    b. Specific Data. The characteristics of all five transport aircraft are discussed below.

      (1) C-130 E/H. The C-130 series aircraft is a high-winged, turboprop airplane designed for tactical, theater type missions (Figure 16-1). It is the primary aircraft utilized by the AMC for tactical missions. This aircraft is used when moving units within a theater of operations. The peacetime ACL based on 2,500 NM for a C-130 is 25,000 pounds; the wartime ACL based on 1,175 NM is 35,000 pounds.

Figure 16-1. C-130 aircraft

        (a) Palletized cargo restrictions. The C-130 can accommodate up to six 463L pallets as follows:





10,354 pounds

96 inches


8,500 pounds

96 inches


4,664 pounds

76 inches

NOTE: Maximum weight includes weight of pallet and nets.


Web passenger seats 90 passengers
Paratroops 64 passengers
Full side wall seats only 42 passengers
Maximum on over water flights 74 passengers

        (b) Rolling stock restrictions. Whenever possible, cargo handlers should load rolling stock on the treadways of the aircraft. Vehicles with pneumatic tires will have a minimum spacing of 4 feet between axles. If this spacing cannot be obtained, the axles will be treated as a single axle and single axle limitations will apply. Vehicle height restrictions will be according to FM 55-9.

      (2) C-141. The C-141 aircraft is a high speed, swept-wing, turbofan jet airplane designed for strategic, intertheater type missions (Figure 16-2). The C-141 is the primary aircraft for deployment to another theater or operation. The peacetime ACL of the C-141 based on 3,500 NM is 39,600 pounds, and its wartime ACL based on 3,500 NM is 50,600 pounds.

Figure 16-2. C-141 aircraft

        (a) Palletized cargo restrictions. The C-141 can accommodate up to thirteen 463L pallets as follows:





10,355 pounds

76 inches


10,355 pounds

96 inches


7,500 pounds

76 inches

NOTE: Maximum weight includes weight of pallet and nets.


Web passenger seats over land 200 passengers
Paratroops 156 passengers
Airline seats/one comfort pallet 143 passengers
Full side wall seats only 98 passengers
Maximum on over water flights 153 passengers

        (b) Rolling stock restrictions. Whenever possible, cargo handlers should load wheeled and tracked vehicles on the treadway. Vehicle height restrictions will be according to FM 55-9. Cargo handlers will not load cargo between station 292 and station 322, or stow any wheeled loads outboard the treadways in the troop door area. The affiliated ALCS should be consulted for shoring requirements for pneumatic tires with weights exceeding 5,000 pounds. Total combined cargo weight loaded between station 322 and station 678 should not exceed 45,000 pounds. When loading cargo on the ramp of the aircraft, cargo handlers should ensure the CB of the cargo is not positioned aft of station 1473. When the load consists of palletized netted cargo or floor loaded cargo secured with straps, maintain a 30-inch space between the cargo and nearest forward occupied seat. When cargo consists of vehicles, canned engines or other large items secured with chains, the 30-inch spacing is not required.

      (3) C-5 Galaxy. The C-5 is a high-speed, swept-wing, turbofan jet aircraft used for strategic, intertheater missions (Figure 16-3). It is primarily designed to carry outsized or overweight equipment. Special features of the aircraft are its ability to load/unload from either end of the cargo compartment, and a kneeling capability which allows for lowering the aircraft to facilitate loading/unloading. A forward, hinged visor door and ramp system provide front end loading capability. Aft cargo doors and a ramp system provide aft end loading. This combination provides a RO/RO capability for vehicles and palletized cargo. The kneeling capability is provided through a hydraulic system that allows the aircraft to be lowered on its landing gear. There are three kneeling positions: forward, aft, and level. The kneeling capability facilitates ramp loading/off loading by compensating for the 9-foot height of the cargo floor above the ground. The C-5 is not a solution to the difficulties of planning a unit move and will not be used unless outsize/overweight cargo is displayed. The peacetime ACL of the C-5 based on 3,500 NM is 130,200 pounds, and its wartime ACL based on 3,500 NM is 151,400 pounds.

Figure 16-3. C-5 Galaxy aircraft

        (a) Palletized cargo restrictions. The C-5 can accommodate up to thirty-six 463L pallets as follows:





7,500 pounds

96 inches


10,354 pounds

96 inches


7,500 pounds

70 inches

NOTE: Maximum weight includes weight of pallet and nets.


Airline seats (permanent) 73 passengers
Maximum on over water flights 73 passengers

        (b) Rolling stock restrictions. The C-5 is a unique aircraft because its floor does not have treadways. The floor bearing pressure is the same over the entire floor. However, there are some restrictions. The maximum single axle load is 36,000 pounds. The maximum track vehicle weight is 129,000 pounds. Floor limitations are as follows:

        • Between station 517 and station 724--20,000 pounds single axle or combination in any 40-inch longitudinal area.
        • Between station 724 and station 1884--36,000 pounds single or combination axles in any 40-inch longitudinal area.
        • Between station 1884 and station 1971--20,000 pounds single axle or combination of axles in any 40-inch longitudinal area.

      (4) C-17. The C-17 aircraft four fuel-efficient turbofan engines are integrated with a swept wing that uses superficial airfoil technology and winglets to provide intercontinental range with heavy payloads (Figure 16-4). The C-17 is specifically designed and has the ability to transport all types and large quantities of military fighting equipment and associated personnel. When the need is urgent and the terrain or the enemy will not let the airlift aircraft land, when surprise is essential, or when it is important to get troops and equipment on the ground quickly, the C-17 can employ whatever airdrop option is needed. The peacetime ACL of the C-17 based on 3,500 NM is 135,000 pounds and the wartime ACL of the C-17 based on 2,500 NM is 170,900 pounds.

Figure 16-4. C-17 aircraft

        (a) Two palletized cargo systems. These two systems include-

        • Double-Row Logistics System - 18 pallets.
        • Single-Row Aerial Delivery System - 11 pallets.



10,355 pounds

96 inches


10,355 pounds

96 inches

NOTE: Maximum weight includes weight of pallets and nets.


Side wall seats 54 passengers
Center seats (additional seat kit) 48 passengers
Paratroops 102 passengers
Maximum on over water flights 102 passengers

        (b) Rolling stock restrictions. The cargo floor is a load-carrying structure across its whole width. Vehicles can traverse its whole area and maneuver freely during loading operations. In flight, single 36,000 pound axle loads or a combination of axles weighing up to 40,000 pounds may be carried on any continuous 42-inch longitudinal length of cargo floor area between fuselage stations 578 and 1073.

      (5) KC-10A. The KC-10 Extender is a swept-wing, wide-body tri-jet with a dual-purpose mission as an aerial refueler and cargo/passenger aircraft (Figure 16-5). Unit personnel, equipment, and material are carried on the deck, and bulk fuel tanks are contained in the lower compartments of the fuselage for transporting fuel to conduct aerial refueling operations. The peacetime and wartime ACL of the KC-10 based on 4,000 NM is 100,000 pounds.

Figure 16-5. KC-10A aircraft

        (a) Palletized cargo restrictions. The KC-10 can accommodate up to twenty-two 463L pallets as listed below. (See FM 55-9, Chapter 2, for KC-10 cargo pallet build-up profiles.)




2-6 (left and right)

6,500 pounds

96 inches

7-10 (left and right)

10,000 pounds

96 inches

11 (left and right)

10,000 pounds

88 inches

12 (left and right)

6,500 pounds

88 inches

NOTE: Maximum weight includes weight of pallets and nets.

The KC-10 has two 463L pallet configurations available:

  • Code B. 22 pallet positions available (2L/R through 12L/R).
  • Code D. 16 pallet positions available (5L/R through 12L/R).


Airline seats (Code B)

10 passengers

Airline seats (Code D)

69 passengers

Maximum on over water flights

69 passengers

        (b) Rolling stock restrictions. The unique loading requirements and limitations for the KC-10 require special attention. Any time the use of a KC-10 for airlift is anticipated, arrangements must be made for a wide-body loader at the location. Unlike other AMC aircraft, the KC-10 does not have a ramp at ground level to roll equipment on and off.

        (c) There are three acceptable loading methods for use with the 463L pallet. The methods are as follows:

        • The first method is to prepalletize and secure cargo on individual 463L pallets before loading.
        • The second method is to place empty 463L pallets into the aircraft to create a pallet subfloor.
        • The third method uses a combination of the first two methods.

16-4. DEPLOYING UNIT'S RESPONSIBILITIES. The responsibilities of the supported forces are outlined in AMC Pamphlet 36-1. Some of the user responsibilities are further expanded in DOD 4500.9-R, Part III Mobility (pending approval). Units using Air Force aircraft for movement do the following:

    a. Provide personnel and equipment to accomplish the transportation functions for which they are responsible.

    b. Establish priority and sequence for movement of troops and cargo.

    c. Mark each box, item of equipment, or vehicle with accurate weight and CB.

    d. Document troops and cargo on applicable manifest.

    e. Inform AMC personnel of the following:

      (1) Number and type of troops to be moved.

      (2) Weight, cube, and dimensions of items to be airlifted.

      (3) Nomenclature of items and, where appropriate, a description of unusual cargo.

      (4) Nomenclature and model number for vehicles and large pieces of equipment.

      (5) Hazardous cargo to be moved.

    f. Load/off-load and tie down cargo, vehicles, and equipment according to Air Force instructions under the supervision of AMC/MST personnel or aircraft loadmasters.

    g. Provide shoring and dunnage as required for loading of aircraft.

    h. Provide dunnage as required for ground handling of 463L pallets.

    i. Assist (when requested by the AMC/MST) in installing the cargo restraint and the release/extraction systems.

    j. Appoint troop commanders and cargo custodians for each mission aircraft and provide them with written instructions.

    k. Provide food, billeting, and vehicle support as required by the AMC.

    l. Clean equipment and vehicles. Before loading vehicle, cargo handlers should clean pallets and general cargo items of mud, insects, oil, grease, and so forth.

16-5. LOADING UNIT'S RESPONSIBILITIES. Cargo handlers' responsibilities for loading cargo are as follows:

    a. Assemble cargo and passengers for airlift.

    b. Reduce vehicles and equipment for loading. Vehicles to be transported in C-141 and C-130 aircraft will be reduced in height to 102 inches or less. Vehicles with an operational height of 102 inches or less need not be reduced. The AMC/MST personnel determine loadability for items of equipment in excess of 102 inches, but less than the actual height dimensions of the aircraft.

    c. Determine secondary loads. Cargo may be carried in the bed of the cargo truck under the following conditions:

      (1) The maximum cross-country load capacity of the vehicle is not exceeded.

      (2) The cargo can be securely restrained in the vehicle cargo bed by attaching it either to the vehicle body or chassis, or the aircraft floor.

      (3) The restraint (tie-down) criteria for the cargo are at least as stringent as for the vehicle itself.

      (4) The cargo loaded in the vehicle bed does not exceed the height of the vehicle side racks.

    d. Load cargo by doing the following:

      (1) After the bows have been removed from the vehicle, stow them in the cargo bed. Load the secondary cargo and spread the vehicle canvas over the cargo.

      (2) Secure the cargo with a 1/2-inch rope (minimum thickness) using sections of rope laced laterally and longitudinally to the outside vehicle tie-down points. Ensure that the ropes contact the cargo, and not just hold the side racks down.

    e. Accurately determine the weight of the vehicle plus the weight of any cargo on the vehicle. After any secondary load has been secured in the cargo bed, weigh the vehicle and compute the vehicle CB according to the procedures outlined in Chapter 17.

    f. Assemble palletized cargo according to FM 55-9. Pallet weights must not exceed aircraft limitations, and height and shapes must conform to the type of aircraft used. Nets must be serviceable and properly installed. (See FM 55-9, Chapter 2.)

16-6. HAZARDOUS CARGO. All hazardous cargo to be airlifted must be identified, packaged, handled, and certified in strict compliance with TM 38-250.

16-7. TROOP COMMANDER'S RESPONSIBILITIES. The senior individual in each aircraft load of troops is appointed as troop commander and receives a copy of the passenger manifest. Terminal operations personnel will brief troop commanders thoroughly on their responsibilities. An example of troop commander duties follows:

    a. Selection of a troop commander for an aircraft load of passengers ensures proper passenger processing. Prompt execution of assigned duties reduces confusion and assists the dispatch and successful completion of the flight.

    b. A troop commander's specific responsibilities are as follows:

      (1) To be present at the passenger briefing for the flight.

      (2) To assume control of all passengers listed for movement on the flight and inform them of formations, expected departure, and reporting time.

      (3) To be readily available to the UMO at all times. Personnel will not be dismissed without the approval of the UMO.

      (4) To check roll prior to loading to make sure everyone is present for the flight. Report no-show passengers to the UMO so that standby passengers may be selected to complete the load.

NOTE: Coordinate time for the roll check with the UMO.

      (5) To make sure passengers have placed their baggage on the proper vehicle for transport to the aircraft, or turned in for palletizing on a 463L pallet.

      (6) To check the loading of passengers to ensure that each individual appearing on the manifest is aboard.

      (7) To maintain aircraft load and troop commander's itinerary.

      (8) To brief all passengers on maintaining security of their personal belongings. Make sure that any passenger removed from a flight also has his baggage removed. Conduct an antihijack inspection of all assigned troops and certify this action on DD Form 2131, block 6 of the (Passenger/Cargo Manifest). Keep one copy of DD Form 2131 for the deploying unit's records and send one copy to the AACG.

      (9) To collect all clips and ammunition, keep these items in custody during flight, and reissue them as required en route or at destination.

      (10) To maintain in-flight discipline of all passengers.

      (11) To control the issue of in-flight rations to the troops.

      (12) To help maintain clean and safe conditions in the aircraft.

      (13) To determine ground time from the loadmaster at en route stations and to ensure that all passengers are present if necessary. If passengers are off-loaded, or other personnel are added to the manifest at an intermediate stop, notify the departure airfield by operational immediate message. Any change to the manifest will be explained in the "reason" portion of the form. The final destination base will be included as an information addressee unless the destination is classified. Before departure from the en route station, conduct another antihijack inspection.

      (14) To brief passengers on load restrictions and conduct at en route stops. Some stations may restrict passengers to the base area because of local conditions. The TALCE representative meeting the aircraft will report pertinent local conditions.

      (15) To help the aircraft commander get billeting and messing for the aircraft passengers if weather causes landing at off-route bases.

      (16) To maintain an orderly dispatch of the passengers and determine if they need to assist with the off-loading of baggage or cargo on arrival.

      (17) To designate a guard for personal effects or other equipment that must remain in the cabin of the aircraft during en route servicing stops. If necessary, use two individuals to perform guard duty on an alternate basis. If en route military bases do not arrange to provide hot meals for the security guards, ask the base to provide acceptable security. Arrange for security coverage through base facilities when unusually long delays are encountered.

16-8. SAFETY. Safety is the paramount consideration in any airlift movement. Injury to personnel or damage to equipment or aircraft inhibits efficient mission accomplishment. All personnel must be briefed on the importance of safe practices on the flight line and around the aircraft.

    a. Flight Line Safety. Flight personnel must adhere to the following requirements and restrictions:

      (1) Do not smoke on the flight line.

      (2) Do not sit or lie on the aircraft parking ramp.

      (3) Stay away from the aircraft engines and APU exhaust (Figure 16-6) when they are in operation.

NOTE: Vehicles equipped with diesel engines will have transmission in neutral. If the driver must dismount, chocks will be used.

      (4) Place vehicles equipped with automatic transmission in park position. When vehicles are parked between sundown and sunup, parking lights must be on.

      (5) Wait in the marshaling area if not specifically assigned a job at the aircraft.

      (6) Use ear protection when working around aircraft.

      (7) Observe posted speed limits (AMC Pamphlet 36-1).

        (a) Aircraft parking ramp--15 miles per hour.

        (b) Within 25 feet of aircraft--5 miles per hour.

        (c) Inside the aircraft--extremely slow and cautious.

      (8) Do not drive a vehicle under any part of the aircraft or between the wing tips of parked aircraft.

    b. Loading Safety. Personnel will adhere to the following requirements and restrictions when loading aircraft:

      (1) Do not back a vehicle toward or into an aircraft until both front and rear spotters are in place. Drivers will then proceed only under direction of a guide.

      (2) Do not stand or walk in, front of or behind vehicles that are being loaded or off-loaded.

      (3) Only one person will provide signal guidance for vehicle operations while vehicles are being loaded or off-loaded from the aircraft.

Figure 16-6. Danger areas - engines and APU

      (4) Personnel will ensure all safety chains and pintle hook pins are installed on vehicles towing trailers. Personnel must check the security of trailer third wheels before loading or off-loading them.

      (5) Vehicles are not allowed within the circle of safety (see Figure 16-7) unless they are to be loaded aboard or used to service the aircraft. All vehicles must approach the aircraft so the driver's side is toward the aircraft. Personnel will park the vehicle parallel to the wing axis, with ignition off, key left in the lock, parking brake set, and the transmission placed in low gear.

Figure 16-7. Circle of safety

      (6) Do not leave vehicles unattended on the cargo floor unless providing a minimum of one chain forward and aft restraint.

      (7) Do not wear rings or watches while serving on loading/off-loading teams.

      (8) Do not throw any equipment (tie-down chains, chocks, wrenches) about the aircraft.

      (9) Load team member will wear gloves.

    c. Off-loading and Destination Safety. Personnel will adhere to the following requirements and restrictions:

      (1) Do not remove restraint devices or start vehicles until told to do so by the aircraft loadmaster.

      (2) Ensure passengers exit aircraft before vehicles are off-loaded.

      (3) Move only in a direction straight away from the front (C-5) or rear (C-130, C-141B, C-17, or C-5) of the aircraft, at least 50 feet (150 feet for the C-5) before turning right or left. Also, move at least 300 feet from the turning point of the aircraft before stopping.


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