UPS has placed an order for 1,821 fire-resistant shipping containers.
Delivery of these new containers will begin this September and is slated for completion by early 2014.
The containers are built with new panel material, MACROLite, a fiber-reinforced plastic composite similar to the material used in ballistic body armor. Burn testing conducted by UPS and the Federal Aviation Administration, and observed by the National Transportation Safety Board, has shown that a unit load device with MACROLite panels can contain a fire with a peak temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit for more than four hours, giving a flight crew time to land safely in the event an in-flight fire.
“We have tested these containers in the laboratory and in live operations,” said Mitch Nichols, UPS’s airlines president, in a written statement. “They will enhance safety and increase durability, and they are lighter, which will reduce fuel burn and supports our ongoing sustainability efforts.”
The new containers are part of a series of fire safety enhancements recommended by the UPS-Independent Pilots Association Safety Task Force.
“These containers are a game changer, both for UPS and the industry as a whole,” said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer.
“Fire onboard an aircraft has long been a top concern for the National Transportation Safety Board,” added Deborah A.P. Hersman, NTSB chairman. “We commend UPS for implementing this real-world solution that addresses our recommendations.”