UTC Overseas handles time-sensitive air charter from Egypt to the USA
Door-to-door transport of oversized cargo often comes with a number of challenges, such as short unloading times span, coordination of multiple international trams as well as handling complicated paperwork. UTC Overseas’ air freight teams had a job on their hand with the transport of aero-derivative gas turbines from Egypt to Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Originating in Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh, the units were flown to Chicago O’Hare. Once they arrived, UTC further coordinated the last-mile transport to multiple destinations to support power stations. In total, the transport included three turbines that are components of power packs. Each pack contains a turbine, transformer, generator, and control unit. The turbines measured 218″ x 102″ x 102″ and weighed 28,660 pounds each (5.3 metres x 2.6 metres x 2.6 metres, weighing 12.9 tons).
The gas turbines were transported in specialised shipping cans – hard, heavy-duty protective cases – designed to move power generation equipment.
The cans, pumped with nitrogen to displace oxygen, are sealed containers equipped to control the inside environment to keep out moisture and salt, which can be corrosive and damaging to expensive equipment.
Based on the dimensions of the turbines and shipping cans, UTC’s team began looking for the best airfreight solution. A charter was arranged using the IL-76, a heavy-lift cargo aircraft that UTC engineers deemed most suitable for the job. It is a workhorse used to transport cargo and troops, and for aerial refuelling and firefighting.
The IL-76’s cabin size is large, able to accommodate approximately 160 cubic meters, with a payload capacity of 50 tons. The tail cargo door has expanding loading ramps, and the cabin is equipped with two electric winches, each with three-ton traction, and four electric hoists with a pulling capacity of up to 10 tons. Due to its size and the onboard equipment, it was the most efficient choice for the quick turnaround needed.
Limited time on the ground
Arrangements began months in advance. Due to the flight crew’s time constraints, they had only two hours on the ground. Each step in the process had to be performed with great precision since there was no time to spare in executing the plan.
UTC’s Air Charter team was on the ground to oversee the operation. Pre-coordination was key to getting the units ready to load quickly. The necessary equipment for loading and the handling crew had to be onsite and ready to spring into action.
Prior to the units landing, specialised trucks, airport storage, forklifts, security, ex-rays, airport clearance, and a myriad of other tasks were coordinated and ready. Proper paperwork, permits, certificates, and inspections were key to keeping the operation running swiftly.
Mobilising the gear
UTC provided a variety of services critical to the success of this project: customs, engineering, air freight, ground transportation, rigging, and more.
UTC’s team worked closely with the engineers from Silkway Airlines to craft a loading and unloading plan for the IL76. Despite the complex paperwork involved, UTC’s team arranged customs clearance, which was critical to allow for unloading.
Special ground handling equipment was required at three airports and both job sites. A 50T mobile crane with a spreader bar and rigging kit distributed pressure to avoid direct contact with container walls.
A 20T forklift with long forks for extensions, a 16T capacity forklift, three air ride flatbed trailers, airport dollies and pallets, heavy-duty trucks, and two main deck loaders assembled as a train to extend the length of the work surface were all necessary to the success of the project.