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Collapsible Containers: Add Convenience, Save Space 

Collapsible Containers: Add Convenience, Save Space 

Seasonal imbalances in passenger and cargo traffic can result in an airline experiencing a build-up of excess AKE containers at their network’s outstations. The need for repositioning these extra AKEs can result in either having excess AKEs in the airline’s ULD fleet or alternatively flying with empty AKEs at the expense of revenue-generating cargo positions. 

The practical value of a collapsible AKE has long been understood within the cargo and aviation industries. By reducing its footprint when empty, a collapsible AKE can be stacked with others of its type for easy and cheap transport on return journeys, thus saving room for other cargo and eliminating the need for extra shipments just to return empty containers. 

Despite such a clear use case, however, actually building an affordable model for repeated real-world operations has been too great of an obstacle. Until now. 

Our new S-series collapsible AKE designs are lightweight, durable, and convenient, as well as easy to manage and store. As we will see below, they also come in several different models to accommodate a broad set of priorities, such as reduced weight and affordability. 

Pushing the industry forward 

Back in 2001, AviusULD became the first (and still the only) ULD manufacturer to certify and market a collapsible AKE product. However, design constraints limited its usefulness; the container was relatively heavy, required tools as well as cooperation between multiple people during the setup process, had protruding pins which caused handling difficulties, and used uneven surfaces which made stacking inefficient. 

The early model, therefore, remained only a partial success — and in 2020, we set out to improve it through a complete redesign. 

The result is our brand-new S-series collapsible AKE, a trio of state-of-the-art models without peer in our industry. Convenience was a high priority within our design process; these user-friendly containers do not require initial assembly at an MRO station, as they arrive assembled. Moreover, they can be set up by a single person in as little as one minute, without the need for any tools. 

The main difference between these three models relates to the materials in use. These materials vary in terms of weight, durability, and price. The weight differentials are highlighted in the table below, alongside the number of stacked containers that can fit on one pallet: 

Previous (2001) model:     

  • Aluminum 96KG 
  • Practical return ratio on PAG/PMC: 5 to 6 

New (2024) S-Series:  

  • Aluminum 89KG 
  • Herculight 80KG 
  • Endumax 76KG 
  • Practical return ratio on PAG/PMC: 12 to 14 

The AviusULD collapsible S-series AKE models also unlock enormous efficiency improvements for airlines. Specifically, lower weight and space requirements translate to a reduced CO2 footprint during transport, as an airplane can hold many more collapsible containers than normal containers.  

These same qualities likewise make ground handling more manageable, with far less airport equipment — such as trucks and trailers — needed to move collapsible containers to and from airplanes. Storage at the airport is also made simpler, requiring significantly less space and organizational effort, as each stack of S-series containers can be stored within a very small physical footprint. 

Although each of our new models has a similar form and function, it is important to note the differences between the materials they use. Our aluminum model is the heaviest of the three, but also the most affordable. Herculight provides a modest increase in durability, while also significantly reducing weight. Endumax is our highly engineered, lightest weight model, and also represents the most durable option in the S-series. 

Each of these models has been carefully designed to provide convenience as well as safety. Gone are the days of sharp corners and edges, and side hinges that can pinch operators’ fingers if not treated with extra special care. Our S-series eliminates these dangers, while also simplifying the setup and breakdown processes.  

It’s everything you want in a collapsible container — lightweight convenience in a user-friendly package, all with a small footprint for snug storage on return journeys. 

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