VRR will be unveiling a sequel to its unique folding AAY at the World Cargo Symposium 2022 in London, England, next week (27-29SEP22): the world’s first fully collapsible AAX. A practical, cost-efficient, and sustainable answer to an eternal industry pain-point – the repositioning of empty containers. CFG fired a mini-interview over to the VRR press department, and here are the answers.
Back in 2019, when VRR announced the upcoming launch of the world’s first fully certified, collapsible AAY container at the ULD Care conference in Montreal that September, the accompanying video inspired me to write about origami magic.
Now, three years later, VRR has brought out a repeat, but on a bigger scale: the AAX. Nevertheless, it is the same principle: “You need just two people and two minutes. We’ve kept everything as simple as possible for ground handlers. Even the moving parts are simple to maintain and replace,” Geert van Riemsdijk, Managing Director of VRR, promises. The release also underlines that the collapsible AAX is easy to use and repair. He points out: “You don’t need tools to put it up or down, and there’s no disassembly involved. The collapsible AAX can be used just like the standard AAX. It has the same perfect-fit shape and the same durability. The only difference is that it can be folded and stacked. Now you can fly three or four empty containers for the price of one.”
CFG wanted to know more and asked VRR “What learnings from the AAY flowed into the design of the AAX?”
VRR: We mainly learned that there is more need for an AAX Collapsible than a AAY collapsible. This is because the B737 (in which the AAY is used most often) mainly flies shorter distances, while the biggest imbalance issues are with flights over the oceans. So, with the AAX, we expect to be able to help a lot more customers solve their imbalance issues.
CFG: How many AAYs have been sold since 2019?
VRR: The AAY collapsible was introduced just before Covid. Due to the crisis, customers had much less to spend, the market was hesitant, and we did not promote a lot. We sold several containers to ACL, which was our launch customer back then. They are still very happy with the collapsible containers.
CFG: Do you have a launch customer already for the AAX?
VRR: We will be announcing our launch customer after the WCS.
CFG: When will the first AAX be deployed?
VRR: In the first half of 2023
CFG: What is next in the collapsible program?
VRR: Currently, we are still working on the Air7. Our main focus is getting it certified.
Say Goodbye to ULD Imbalances with First Ever Collapsible AAX
The AAX press release title “say goodbye to ULD imbalances”, underlines the pain-point that has plagued the industry ever since the first containers were designed. If it is not actively being used to transport goods, a ULD takes up a lot of space – both in a warehouse and in an aircraft. And space costs money. “Our latest container solves a very real problem facing all ULD fleet managers: what to do with empty containers after a consignment has been shipped,” Geert van Riemsdijk, Managing Director of VRR, says. “Until now, it’s been a case of leaving them behind or returning them unloaded. It’s not much of a choice. Well, now they have a third option. They can fold them and stack them for storage or repositioning.”
Sustainability is key
Not only does it burn money to shift empty containers, but it goes without saying that moving empties that use up space, is a slow process (you can only transport a limited number at a time), and it also has a negative environmental impact. Flying air is not sustainable. VRR’s latest innovation, however, offers a faster, cheaper, and more sustainable solution. Since the AAX can be stacked “up to three high on the main deck of a B767 and four high on the lower deck of a wide-body plane” (or even six high in a shipping container), greater numbers can be shipped at a time, taking up less pallet space in an aircraft, and enabling more efficient use of all other positions.
“These days, airlines are having to focus on reducing their CO2 footprint,” Van Riemsdijk, concludes. “VRR recognizes that challenge, which is why we’ve put so much effort into producing collapsible containers. At the end of the day, we all have a part to play in flying the skies sustainably.”
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