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This chapter defines the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program and describes selected civilian aircraft for planning purposes. CRAF is a program that uses commercial aircraft support capabilities of select US civil air carriers to rapidly augment organic military airlift forces during crises. CRAF combines commercial cargo and passenger long-range and short-range airlift capability to meet emergency airlift requirements. The number of CRAF aircraft changes monthly based on contract negotiations.

CRAF can be activated in three stages:

  • Stage I may be activated by the USTRANSCOM commander in chief to provide responsive support during a committed expansion of airlift capability. Peacetime procedures remain in effect. This stage is only an expansion of airlift capability contractually committed to call-up. Carriers have 24 hours to make aircraft available for missions.
  • Stage II provides additional airlift to support an airlift emergency. This stage increases the capability more than Stage I without resorting to full mobilization. The Secretary of Defense has activation authority for this stage. As with Stage I, carriers have 24 hours to make aircraft available.
  • Stage III provides the total CRAF capability for major military emergencies warranting a full mobilization of US forces. The Secretary of Defense issues the order to activate CRAF Stage III only after the President or Congress declares a national emergency. Carriers have 48 hours to make aircraft available.


Unlike standardized military cargo aircraft, civilian airframes vary widely. It is not uncommon for the same type, model, and series of civil aircraft to vary greatly depending on the carrier's needs. All CRAF aircraft need some modification before military vehicles and equipment can be loaded and transported on them. See Table 3-1 for examples of CRAF aircraft capabilities. For more in-depth guidance on type, model, and series capabilities, consult Air Mobility Command Pamphlet (AMCP) 55-41, Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) Load Planning Guide. Units may obtain a copy of AMCP 55-41 from--

Commander, US Army Forces Command
ATTN: Publications Stock Room
Building 208
Fort Gillem, Forest Park, GA 30050-5000

Commander, EUCOM
APO New York 09451-0127

Commander, US Army Training and Doctrine Command
Fort Monroe, VA 23651-5000

Commander, US Army, Pacific
Fort Shafter, HI 96858-5100

Other Units:
Scott Air Force Base, IL 62225-5441

During total mobilization, as much as 95 percent of all troops deployed are likely to use a civilian aircraft for strategic deployment. In a national emergency, military airlift may be in very short supply, and Air Force aircraft will carry large vehicles and equipment. Planning must include flexibility for maximum use of civilian aircraft. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, CRAF was activated for the first time and successfully supported the United States deployment and sustainment to Southwest Asia.

Problems associated with loading CRAF aircraft are not usually encountered in loading military aircraft. The cargo compartment of a B-747, for example, is 16 feet above ground level (AGL). Standard military materials-handling equipment cannot be used to load the aircraft. Like the floors of the KC-10, the floors of all civilian aircraft are not strong enough to withstand the ground pressure of vehicles. A subfloor of 463L pallets must be installed before loading any vehicles. Despite subflooring, any vehicle heavier than a 2 1/2-ton truck cannot be loaded onto most civilian aircraft. Pallet stations may also have weight restrictions, and planners must adjust loads (see AMCP 55-41).

The roller/restraint systems in most civilian aircraft will accept a military 463L pallet, but on most of those aircraft, the rails must be moved before the pallets can be loaded. Height restrictions are also critical. Differences in fuselage configurations will cause pallet load heights to vary, especially in the lower lobes of wide-body aircraft. Review the fuselage cross sections in Figure 3-1 or refer to AMCP 55-41 before planning pallet loads on civilian cargo aircraft.

The width of selected cargo doors may also be restrictive. Except for some B-747 models with ramps, vehicles cannot be driven onto the aircraft as doors on the fuselage sides are relatively small.

Lower lobe/compartment baggage containers normally are not desirable for contingency deployment because of specialized MHE required for loading and unloading. Experience has shown that it is often more efficient to handload baggage into the aircraft whose cargo doors are too narrow for baggage pallets. Planners should note that moving units will require additional assistance for manual uploading. The use of commercial baggage containers normally requires that the loading of bags be delayed until the aircraft arrives at the loading location and that specialized MHE be brought to load the containers. However, in the event that commercial baggage containers are used, the carrier will be responsible for providing the appropriate containers. There are instructions in each of the aircraft sections of AMCP 55-41. Figure 3-2 shows the commercial containers available for use on civil air carriers.

Restraining the cargo once it is aboard the aircraft is another problem. When a pallet subfloor is installed before loading military vehicles, tie-down devices must be applied according to the limits of the pallet. The restraint criteria for civilian aircraft differ from that for Air Force aircraft (see Chapter 7). CRAF criteria are--

  • Forward: 1.5 times the force of gravity (g).
  • Aft: 1.5 g's.
  • Vertical: 2.0 g's.
  • Lateral: 1.5 g's.

Since the rings on a 463L pallet are too small to accept an MB-2 (25,000-pound) tie-down device, vehicles can be restrained only with MB-1 (10,000-pound) devices and CGU-1/B (5,000-pound) cargo straps.

Despite these loading problems, CRAF aircraft are a productive and necessary part of airlift planning. The aircraft characteristics and planning data in this manual for each civil aircraft should make planning easier. The use of civil aircraft must be closely coordinated through the affiliated AMC TALCE.


The B-707 is a four-engine, long-range, narrow-body aircraft (Figure 3-3). It can carry approximately 90,000 pounds of cargo or 142 passengers.

The main deck of the B-707 can carry 13 463L pallets. When 108-inch pallets are loaded, a flip-up rail 17 inches from the left side cargo rail is positioned to receive the pallet. The aft-most pallet must have the 88-inch side facing the front/aft section of the cargo compartment. All military cargo on the main deck will be palletized or loaded on a palletized subfloor. The side door to the main deck is about 10 feet AGL; therefore, items can be loaded with selected standard military MHE (not by the 25K TAC loader).

The lower deck has a forward compartment (Figure 3-4). One door leads to the forward compartment, and two doors lead to the aft compartment. The lower compartments in this narrow-body aircraft have a rounded belly and cannot be loaded with pallets. The compartments normally are loaded with small, hand-transportable cargo items or baggage. These items may be loaded directly onto the floor of the B-707 or into commercial baggage containers.

NOTE: The B-707 may possibly settle on its tail section if improperly loaded. Since the aft section of the main deck normally is loaded first, about 5,000 pounds of cargo must be placed in pallet position 1 before loading the rest of the main deck.

As with most commercial aircraft, loading the lower lobe forward compartment is preferred before loading the aft compartment. If there is a notable weight difference, the heavier cargo should be placed in the forward compartment.


The B-747 is a wide-body aircraft flown in passenger or cargo configurations (Figure 3-5). The B-747 is normally contracted to carry 364 to 461 passengers (Figure 3-6) or 42 pallet positions (Figure 3-7) at 180,000-pounds ACL. The actual passenger or cargo maximum capability may be higher, based on the series and the individual aircraft configuration.

The main deck of the B-747 can be configured for a 33 or 37 military pallet configuration. The 33 pallet configuration is required for mixed loads or loads made up entirely of rolling stock. All military cargo on the main deck will be palletized or placed on a palletized subfloor.

The B-747-100F has side door only loading for the main cargo area. The B-747-200C may have visor door only loading or both visor and side door loading for the main deck. The B-747-200F has a nose cargo door with an optional side cargo door. The visor and side doors are about 16 feet AGL and require other than standard military MHE.

The upper area directly behind the crew compartment may be included for military planning purposes for passengers on a select basis. Seating availability (0 to 32) depends on the model and configuration.

The lower deck or lobe has three sections. The forward lower lobe can carry five military or commercial pallets; the center lower lobe, four military or commercial pallets; and the lower lobe aft bulk area, approximately 800 cubic feet of bulk cargo. The lower lobes can also carry eight full-sized cargo containers (186 by 60.5 by 64 inches) in the forward section and seven in the aft section. A removable net separates the bulk cargo area from the lower lobe aft compartment.


No hazardous cargo or equipment can be placed in the center lower lobe or aft bulk compartment. These compartments are inaccessible during flight.

Cargo capabilities vary. Refer to the specific aircraft series. For general planning purposes, refer to Figure 3-7 for pallet weight limitations. For the forward and aft lower lobes, cargo must be palletized, put on a pallet subfloor, or containerized. The bulk area is normally used for baggage or light cargo and therefore would not require a subfloor.

The lower lobes normally have rails ready to accept a commercial pallet. If the rails cannot be readily converted to accept a 463L pallet, laterally restrain the pallet by securing it with a chain bridle to the left rail. Secure cargo with straps or chains. Installing end locks provides forward, aft, and vertical restraint.


The DC-8 is a four-engine, long-range, narrow-body aircraft (Figure 3-8). It can carry 165 to 252 passengers or up to 110,000 pounds of cargo. Variations depend on aircraft series, spacing of the seats (Figure 3-9), and individual aircraft configurations. The main deck of the DC-8 can receive from 14 to 18 military 463L pallets (Figure 3-10) depending on the aircraft series.

The aircraft rail system can accept 125-inch-wide commercial or 108-inch-wide military pallets. Both side cargo rails may be moved inboard 8.5 inches to allow centerline loading of the 108-inch military pallet and the 125-inch commercial pallet in the same load. The aft-most pallet must have the 88-inch side facing the front or aft section of the cargo compartment.

All military cargo on the main deck will be palletized or placed on a palletized subfloor. For general planning purposes, use the maximum weight limitations in Figure 3-10. The side door to the main deck is about 11 feet AGL; therefore, standard military MHE (except the TAC loader) can load items on the main deck.

The lower lobes (Figure 3-11) have a lower forward compartment, a lower aft compartment, but no aft bulk cargo area. The size of the compartments varies according to the series. The forward and aft lower compartments have two cargo doors into each compartment (except for the DC-8-33, which has only one door to each compartment).

Because of door restrictions, pallets cannot be used as a subfloor. Therefore, the lower compartments are usually loaded with small hand-transportable cargo items or baggage.

NOTE: The cargo version DC-8 may settle on its tail section if loaded improperly. Before loading the main cargo compartment, position about 5,000 pounds of cargo in the forward area of the main deck, pallet position 1, or in the forward lower compartment.

For passenger aircraft, 40 percent of the baggage weight should be in the forward lower compartments and 60 percent in the aft lower compartments. As with most commercial aircraft, loading the lower forward compartment before loading the aft compartment is preferred.


The DC-10 is a wide-body tri-jet aircraft (Figure 3-12). It can carry 380 passengers (Figure 3-13) or 176,000 pounds of cargo. The actual passenger and cargo capability varies based on aircraft series and configuration.

The main deck of the DC-10 can hold 30 military 463L pallets. All military cargo on the main deck must be palletized or placed on a palletized subfloor. For general planning purposes, use the maximum weight limitations in Figure 3-14. The side door to the main deck is about 16 feet AGL and therefore requires other than standard military MHE.

The DC-10 has three lower lobe compartments (Figure 3-15). The forward lower lobe has a solid floor. Either 1,300 or 3,045 cubic feet are available, depending on the galley location either up or down. Some aircraft have 463L pallet capability, depending on the cargo door size (Figure 3-16). The center lower lobe has a solid floor. It has either the standard 1,550-cubic feet capability or the extended center lower lobe of 1,935-cubic feet capability. The aft bulk compartment has a solid floor. Most DC-10s have the standard 805-cubic feet capability. If the center lower lobe is extended, the aft bulk compartment is 510 cubic feet.

For passenger DC-10s, start loading baggage in the aft bulk compartment, then the center lower lobe, and finally the aft section of the forward lower lobe. For cargo aircraft, load bulk cargo designated for the forward lower lobe first, then pallet positions 1 left and 1 right on the main deck, and finally the remainder of the main deck from the aft section forward and the center lower lobe/aft bulk compartment.


The L-1011 is a long-range, wide-body, tri-jet passenger aircraft (Figure 3-17). Only the passenger model is now available for military use. The L-1011 is normally configured to carry 246 to 330 passengers. Variations on passenger seating availability depends on the aircraft series, the location of the galley, and spacing requirements of the seats (Figure 3-18).

The lower lobe (Figure 3-19) has a forward compartment, a center compartment, and an aft bulk loading compartment, each with a single door. The size of these compartments and access doors varies with aircraft model and series. The L-1011-100 has the galley either in the lower lobe or in the main deck cabin.

The L-1011 has no restraint mechanisms to secure 463L pallets. Plan to bulk load or use LD-3 containers (Figure 3-2) in all applicable compartments.

The L-1011 forward lower lobe can accommodate either 8, 12, or 16 LD-3 containers (Figures 3-20 and 3-21), depending on the model series and storage configuration for small-density cargo and passenger baggage. The center lower lobe can accommodate either 7 or 8 LD-3 containers, depending on the model series and configuration. The aft bulk compartment is limited to bulk cargo/baggage only.

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