Be a Real Freight Dog – How to Master Air Cargo Abbreviations!

Püttmann's Blog
Hello dear readers. It’s time to acquire some knowledge about aviation! Many people think, flying an aircraft is the most difficult thing in the aviation world – this is not entirely true 😉

Abbreviations Are The Real Deal!

Many do not understand why, but aviators love to use shortcuts. FAB, HUB, PIB, FTK – Learning all these terms by heart can be a pain. But don’t you worry, fellow aviation or economics students, hobby pilots, enthusiasts , or random folks that happen to land on my website: I’ll try to help you! 

Shortcuts in The Air Cargo Business!

The topic I will deal with today is the Air Cargo Business with some of the most common terms to know. I will not cover all of them, but knowing at least these will help you to get around better in the air freight business! So let’s begin with some basic terms.

The Foundation – Basic Terms to Know

The abbreviations below will appear sooner or later in every aviator’s life!

  • AWB/MAWBAir Way Bill an evidence of a contract between the shipper and the consignee, for the transportation of goods on routes of the carrier (according to ICAO). The Master Air Way Bill combines different shipments from different shippers to one large shipment.
  • FTK – Freight Tonne Kilomters, one metric tonne, transported one kilometer
  • AFTK – Available Freight Tonne Kilometers, aircraft’s capacity(ies) in tonnes times the kilometers flown in a period of time
  • FTKT – Freight Tonne Kilomters Transported, amount of FTK that has actually been carried
  • RFS – Road Feeder Service, air freight that is carried on the road (The trucks actually get a flight number for that!)
  • ULD – Unit Load Device, term for containers or pallets that are used to pack luggage and/or freight into an aircraft, ULDs combine a huge amount of cargo in a bundle, this saves time and money

Special Loads

What is the sense of Air Cargo? You got it: to carry goods around the air, as fast and reliable as possible. This is very important for perishable goods or loads of extreme value…or Animals! (Imagine a horse being stuck in a container ship for weeks, poor horse :() Below I will list some of the most common goods transported via Air Freight – and their shortcuts – listed alphabetically.

  • AVI – Animaux Vivantes, this is French for Live Animals
  • BIG – Big Freight (usually longer than 4m)
  • COL – Things that have to be kept cool!
  • DGR – Dangerous Goods Regulations, standard of set by the ICAO, how to handle dangerous goods, like your smartphones lithium battery, when transported via air
  • DIP – Diplomatic Mail – these folks need to send their mail with the speed of light (just imagine: a war breaks out, because an important letter is stuck on the road for ages :))
  • EAT – Food…Too easy
  • FIL – Undeveloped Film
  • HEA – Heavy freight, weighing more than 150 kilograms 
  • HEG – Hetching Eggs
  • HUM – Human Remains, coffins, ashes, etc. 😦
  • LHO – Life Human Organs, either not time critical, or Live and Death (organs critical for transplants, life saving human blood and medicines)
  • PEH – Pharmaceuticals
  • PEM – Meat
  • PES – Fish and Seafoods
  • RXS – Cartridges
  • VAL – Valuable Goods, like gold and bank notes
  • VUN – Goods that are theft endangered! Watches etc.

This list is far away from being complete (yet), but I am sure that it will help one or the other. To be completed. If you spot any mistakes or have recommendations, comment below! Cheers, AP


10 thoughts on “Be a Real Freight Dog – How to Master Air Cargo Abbreviations!

    1. I am really happy that I could help you with this guide – more are to follow, so make sure that you drop in again 🙂 if you know anyone else who could make use of this list, feel free to share it! Best wishes, AP

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