VRR announced last week that its latest collapsible container, the AAX, which it demonstrated at the World Cargo Symposium in London in SEP22, has finally been awarded EASA certification – and with that, it is ready to fly – once it finds companies willing to buy. The shop doors are open.
On 24FEB23, VRR announced that its foldable and stackable AAX had finally been EASA certified and that it is “eagerly awaiting the first placement of orders.” Ben Lakerveld, Sales
Manager of VRR, stated: “We’re very excited that we can officially launch the AAXc. Now our customers can start enjoying the many real benefits of this container in their day-to-day
operations,” explaining that the “AAXc can cut the space that empty containers take up on a main deck by two-thirds. If you’re a ULD manager looking to significantly reduce your carbon
footprint, this is the solution. Now you can fly three or four empty containers for the price of one, create more space for full containers, and hit your emissions target.”
Interestingly, the release and the website point to a three-high pallet stack for a B767 main-deck, whereas a four-high stack can be placed in the belly hold of a B767 or any other widebody aircraft (why is it not the other way around?), and a six-high stack in a 40ft shipping container. However, not just its space-saving qualities, but also the fact that “it takes just two people, one minute, and no tools to erect or collapse” and was designed with ground handlers in mind, are selling points. Plus, its moving parts are simple to maintain and replace. It can be deployed in an aircraft in the same way as a regular AAX. What it does not have, is a forkliftable base, which could limit truck use for full containers. Palletstacks are forkliftable, however.
CargoForwarder Global has been following VRR’s collapsible air cargo container developments with interest since 2019 (see earlier articles:
https://www.cargoforwarder.eu/2019/09/29/two-men-two-minutes-and-a-certified-piece-of-uld-origami-magic/ ), and reached out for an update on previous questions.
CFG: How long did it take to get EASA-certified and what did this entail?
VRR: We learned a lot from our previously certified AAY container, so structurally there were no challenges here. Once we completed our structural analysis, it was up to EASA to review the application and approve it. Which usually takes a couple of months and was no different for this project.
CFG: Does it require (have) FAA certification? (Can it fly to U.S. on EASA cert only, for example?)
VRR: Due to the bilateral agreement between EASA and the FAA, all EASA certified products are accepted by the FAA, and can therefore be used in the U.S. without any additional FAA certificate.
CFG: According to your press release, it now only takes 1 minute to assemble - were any changes made to it since SEP22?
VRR: No, the prototype we launched at WCS is exactly the same when it comes to the handling. Of course, we made some design improvements after WCS, but none of them affected the handling of the container.
CFG: Do you already have a launch customer? Is it ACL again as for the AAY?
VRR: This time we did not select one launch customer. We have provided some clients the opportunity for a trial run with a limited number of containers. This way, the client can really test the container in their operation, and VRR is provided with valuable operational feedback which can be incorporated in the next iteration of the design.
CFG: Which of the industry's ULD management companies have already expressed an interest in the AAX?
VRR: We believe this will be a very interesting container for all ULD management companies and have received interest from a number of companies in this area.
CFG: Overall, how do you rate the interest in collapsible containers versus traditional ones? What are the challenges for airlines wishing to roll over their ULD to collapsible
VRR: Just like the Collapsible AAY container, it will be an addition to a standard fleet. The collapsible will be used on the lanes where there is an imbalance. It is not intended to completely replace the standard container, but to be a valuable addition to a ULD fleet. We do not foresee any issues with this container other than making people aware that the container is collapsible. Furthermore, the design is made really simple.
CFG: How far along are you with the Air7 – the world’s first inflatable AKE container?
VRR: We are making great progress and having good discussions with EASA. We are still moving forward with this revolutionary ULD!
Will be interesting to see more on that story. Thanks, VRR.
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