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Logwin and Chapman Freeborn demonstrate heavy lift expertise

Global aircraft charter specialist Chapman Freeborn and the logistics service provider Logwin have collaborated on a gigantic project to transport pipe systems weighing a total of 360 tonnes 13,000 kilometers from Göteborg in Sweden to Santiago de Chile

On behalf of a long-standing air freight customer, Logwin commissioned Chapman Freeborn’s Frankfurt office to charter four Antonov 124 freighter aircraft for the high-profile operation.

Three planes took off for Chile on October 15, 16 and 17; the fourth machine had already transported the first shipment of goods to Santiago de Chile at the beginning of October.

Göteborg airport, Friday October 15, 2010

Two Antonov AN-124s are ready on the tarmac. One machine is already loaded and will soon be taking off for South America. Work is still under way on the second cargo plane, with the ramp being set up and aligned.

The Antonov AN-124 is the second largest freight aircraft in the world and features a nose and tail can be opened hydraulically.

Flat-bed trucks, special cranes and loading equipment stand at the ready, and the loadmaster and ten technicians control and monitor loading into the plane. A total of more than 30 people are at work inside and outside the aircraft.

Made-to-measure steel suit

Each Antonov takes around 100 tonnes of cargo on board in Göteborg, with the freight consisting of pipes for a heat exchange system. The bundles of pipes have been packed in custom-made steel frames for transport.

The extra-wide construction has been designed to fit the Antonov’s dimensions to a tee and equipped with the parts needed to secure the load safely. The freight for each plane consists of three elements each 21.1 meters long and weighing 30 tonnes.

Loading requires precision. Two special cranes are needed to lift the extremely heavy components from the flat-bed truck to the aircraft’s loading carriage. Technicians located inside and outside the machine continuously monitor the correct position of the freight.

Constant measuring, alignment and adjustment needs to be done before it can be finally set down in the middle with thanks to precision work with the crane. The instructions of the Russian loading specialists have to be relayed to the two crane operators in Swedish.

The loadmaster takes a last expert look to check that everything is correct before cranes lower the elements onto the carriage to within a millimetre of the calculated position. It fits like a glove. Several chains are used to winch the freight slowly into the aircraft.

Everything on board

It takes six hours of hard work before the freight is safely stowed away inside and the technicians can remove the ramp. This completes loading for the third machine, and the particular challenges have now almost become routine for loading the fourth and final aircraft.

All that remains to do is to take 45 tonnes of kerosene on board to fly the plane for the first leg of the journey to Lisbon. The Antonov will have to land and refuel a total of four times before reaching its final destination.

The aircraft will fly more than 13,000 kilometers via Lisbon/Portugal, Sal/Cape Verde Islands, Recife/Brazil and Rio de Janeiro/Brazil to its destination in Santiago de Chile.

However, the plane expected from Leipzig experiences technical problems. The departure from there and arrival in Göteborg will have to be deferred by six hours, which means that the schedule must be readjusted.

The plans need to be changed since it is not allowed to erect the required crane in Göteborg at night. A special permit must therefore be obtained for the plane to be able to take off at 8 a.m. on Sunday as scheduled – and it works. The last of the four Antonovs takes off for Chile on schedule, too. After two and a half days, the plane reaches its destination as planned on Tuesday October 19.

Planning right down to the last detail

This huge project required Logwin to make very detailed preparations which addressed questions relating to forwarding and logistical circumstances. It also had to clarify the design of the steel frame and the details of the loading process.

The air freight experts worked together with charter specialists Chapman Freeborn, with whom Logwin has already collaborated on many exceptional projects in the past, to define the individual work steps. There then followed numerous coordination discussions with all the parties involved – the Göteborg company Metso Power AB, manufacturer of the pipe systems and steel construction used in transport, Volga Dnepr Airlines and the Antonov design office.

Logwin’s partner for Scandinavia, Trust Forwarding, was also involved in the run-up and had staff on site together with Logwin employees from Germany and Chile as well as Chapman Freeborn experts to help load each Antonov.

Logwin entrusted its Scandinavian partner with delivering the cargo to and managing formalities at Göteborg airport. Trust Forwarding sent a total of twelve heavy transporters to the airport. The pipe systems delivered will be used as heat exchangers in Chile.

The severe earthquake in February 2010 almost completely destroyed the plant that was operating there. All parties involved are relieved now that the final elements have arrived in Santiago on time. “We are delighted that his exceptional transport contract went so smoothly”, explains Eduardo Vergara, Country Director Logwin in Chile, who accompanied all four loading operations in Göteborg as well as the arrival in Chile. “This is thanks to the great commitment shown by all those who contributed their expertise and active support to the project.”

Chapman Freeborn Airmarketing GmbH

Chapman Freeborn is the world’s leading air charter service company. The company founded in 1973 has a global network of 32 offices in 22 countries. In 2009 Chapman Freeborn operated more than 5,000 charter flights for passengers and freight with annual sales over USD $500 million.

For four consecutive years the company’s freight service won the Air Cargo Charter Broker of the Year award in the World Air Cargo Awards since 2007.

In addition to its core charter business, Chapman Freeborn also offers its customers aircraft purchasing and leasing options. The Air Dispatch and Wings 24 subsidiaries round off its range of services, enabling Chapman Freeborn to provide comprehensive support in all areas of air transportation.