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Ask a Loadmaster


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I am sure some pilots have questions why we sometimes do things the way we do them. So ask away and I will try to enlighten you :)


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What is the difference of an Loadmaster and an Aircraft Dispatcher can both work the same or not? This is for Civilian Aircrafts not military.

Currently I am trying to see about getting a FAA Aircraft Dispatcher license.


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There is a huge difference between both.

In general terms a Loadmaster is responsible to get as much cargo as possible on the airplane while the flight dispatcher is responsible to make a flight plan to get the aircraft from A to B.

A loadmaster is part of the flight crew and is usually listed on the gendec. There isn't a federal license or anything for loadmasters, those are licensed by their companies. Loadmaster jobs can be as easy as just trimming a Fedex airplane with containers containing to complex endeavours like special loads and stuff like loading whales on an aircraft.

I can't really speak for other companies but where I work the motto is 'you name it, we fly it'. We are specialised in heavy, oversized cargo which makes it very interesting. When we plan flights with such cargo it becomes a big game of Tetris where you work yourself up to the max capacity of the airplane. In my case 747-400F & -8F. Things to consider are obviously getting the freight to fit through the nose or side cargo door, floor limits, asymmetrical loads etc. Another important factor are attachment points for straps.Example: A 30 ton blow out preventer can't be properly secured in the tail section of the aircraft.

Once we are done with our trim we send the ZFW to flight dispatch who then uses our numbers to crunch the fuel requirements and their flight plan. Sometimes the airplane is too heavy for specific routes so they have to adjust, or the aircraft will be too heavy to land etc. That's the job of dispatch to figure that out. Now we do work hand in hand so sometimes we coordinate early with them so that they can provide us with a max ZFW so that we can plan accordingly.

A flight dispatcher could work the same yes. During the training you will perform some weight and balance calculations. Generally for passenger operations flight dispatch and crew handle that part. Cargo is very different and if you go to special loads it becomes rather complex which is why is is split up. Besides the fact that a loadmaster usually is part of the flight crew so we go with the airplane to ensure proper handling of the freight at stations etc.


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What is the heaviest single piece of cargo a 747-8 can take before an Antonov is needed.


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Uh that is a very theoretical question which lots of factors involved.
The biggest problem you will have is weight distribution if the piece is taller then 248cm. In that case you would have to use the side cargo door to load the cargo which means you will be immediately restricted by the size of the pallet that you can use. The piece could have minimal overhangs but the important part is the footprint of the ULD. Just of the bat you could put a 28 ton piece as center load on a 20ft as you would distribute the weight over 4 positions and you have plenty attachment points for lashing.
If you go heavier then that you would have to enter the freight be the nose door which brings its own problems aka the contour of the airplane. We have done it many times where we have build up 60ft ULDs or even 80ft to ensure proper weight distribution. The biggest problem as always is later having enough attachment points to lash the freight. In that case a 747-400f is a lot better suited and less restrictive then the -8F.
So I can’t give you an exact figure because there are just so many parameters but I hope it gives you an idea.