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AOG Shipping: Solutions for Aviation Logistics 

Commercial airplanes malfunction from time to time. When this happens airline companies rely on AOG Shipping to get the parts they need.

By

Jacob Lee
April 8, 2022
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AOG Shipping is a freight service that is almost exclusively used by airline companies. An aircraft that is grounded will require new parts to function again. Therefore, airline companies need a specialized shipping solution that will transport new parts.

AOG shipping (aircraft on ground shipping) is used by airlines and other aircraft operators to transport aircraft equipment in a timely manner and restore operational capability. Components transported using AOG shipping include:

  • Engines
  • Wings
  • Tails
  • Cockpits
  • Fuselages
  • Landing Gears
  • Whole Aircrafts

Down below, we’ll give you all the information you need to know about aircraft on ground shipping and how to get your planes back in the air. 

What Is AOG Shipping?

A commercial airliner on a runway repaired with parts delivered with AOG shipping

Airliners have to take the safety of their passengers seriously. In doing so they require their planes to go under routine inspection. If they discover a plane can’t fly during one of the inspections, it will have to be grounded until the issues are resolved.

This is where AOG shipping comes into play. Aircraft on ground shipping is a service that specializes in the transportation of aircraft parts. With this freight service at their disposal, airline companies can order new parts to the airport where their grounded plane is at.

How Often Does AOG Occur?

Planes can break down and suffer technical issues at any given time. Because of the unexpected nature of plane malfunctions, AOG shipments can occur just as often. That is why many freight companies that provide AOG logistic services are available 24/7. 

While planes can break down unexpectedly, malfunctions usually happen more during the summer when travel increases. This results in a higher volume of AOG shipments during this time as well. 

How are Airlines Affected By AOG?

While AOG shipping can be used as an emergency service that transports expedited shipments of airplane parts, it’s important to understand that AOG shipments are not used in this manner most of the time. If an AOG shipment is expedited, it’s usually for the transportation of an engine.

To avoid incurring large financial costs, airliners will often keep an extra plane at the airport or one of their hubs. That way, if one of their active planes becomes grounded for any reason, they will have another one to pick up the slack. Putting another plane into action saves airliners money and removes the pressure off airliners to get the grounded plane fixed as soon as possible.

Speed is a point of emphasis for AOG shipments because of the amount of money that airliners can lose when they have a plane out of commission with no backup available. Another scenario when an AOG shipment might be expedited is when an airliner requires an engine. Passengers who booked a flight on the plane currently grounded will have to be reimbursed and airport storage fees for the grounded plane will have to be paid. 

How Fast Is AOG Shipping?

A commercial airliner taking off a runway

An AOG shipment can usually be assembled only a few hours after the order has been commissioned. However, arrival times can vary based on the distance the freight has to travel, weather and traffic. 

The time it takes for an aircraft on ground shipment to arrive is relative to the distance it must travel after the parts are picked up. For example, an AOG shipment that needs to travel only 500 miles could arrive at its destination in one day whereas a 1500 mile journey would likely take three days to arrive. 

AOG logistics requires an extensive amount of planning. An AOG shipment requires finding a suitable route and finding an available truck and a trailer to transport the parts. 

Additionally, many aircraft on ground shipments will be considered an oversized load. This means that the proper DOT documentation for each state the shipment travels through will have to accompany the shipment. 

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

How Is Aircraft Equipment Transported Using Aircraft on Ground Shipping?

Due to the fragility, size and important functions of airplane equipment, transportation procedures must be carried out with the utmost care. Airplanes have five main sections that allow them to function and when an airliner needs new parts for a grounded aircraft, it’s typically for one or more of these sections. The sections are: 

  • Fuselage
  • Wings
  • Cockpit
  • Engine
  • Tail
  • Landing gear

Typically, aircraft equipment is transported using 53-foot step deck flatbed trailers. These flatbed trailers are referred to as step decks because the deck drops below the rear and front axles. 

The step deck flatbed trailer compensates for the enormous size of AOG shipments. Other flatbed trailers like lowboys might be used as well. The wings, cockpit and engines of airplanes require specialized planning in order to be successfully transported.  

Wings

Many commercial airplanes have wings that exceed 100 feet in length. Oftentimes a self-steering car trailer will have to be used for a semi-truck to be able to haul freight this large. 

Self-steering car trailers are pretty similar to regular trailers except for the rear axles of the trailer has a cab with a steering wheel. The cab is used to help keep the long trailer balanced as the truck driver in the semi pulling the load makes turns. Additionally, an oversize escort vehicle accompanies the shipment.

Besides being an essential component for flight, airplane wings require special considerations when they’re shipped due to their various components. These components include:

  • Ailerons
  • Flaps
  • Winglet
  • Slats
  • Spoilers

If damage occurs to any of these components, the entirety of the wing could be compromised which would make it impossible to work. 

Cockpit

The cockpit contains many different devices and features that allow the pilots to operate the plane successfully. Six different subsections make up the entirety of the cockpit. These sections are:

  • Instrument panel
  • Flight controls
  • Pilot seats
  • Rudder pedals
  • Overhead panel
  • Side consoles 

All of these subsections make planning and executing an aircraft-on-ground cockpit shipment difficult - but not impossible. When an entire cockpit is transported, it travels within the confines of a crate the same way small airplane wings are. 

The crate has to be designed to accommodate the dimensions of the cockpit as best as possible. Doing so will prevent the cockpit from moving around too much while it’s in transit. 

Since cockpits are fairly large, the crate that holds them will be slightly larger. Hauling an AOG shipment of this size will also require the use of a lowboy or step deck trailer. The crate holding the cockpit will then be secured with a load belt. 

If it’s a smaller subsection of the cockpit that needs replacing, then these extreme measures won’t have to be taken. Shipping pilot seats or rudder pedals can be done utilizing a standard LTL shipment. 

Engine

Special considerations also have to be taken into account when transporting airplane engines. Most airplanes use what are called turbofan engines which require special protection when they’re transported because of how they’re calibrated. 

Any damage or even the slightest movement can offset the calibrations in these engines. Therefore, most trailers that are used to transport airplane engines have air ride suspensions. This type of suspension is much better at absorbing shockwaves when the trailer goes over bumps and potholes in the road. 

Flatbeds transporting airplane engines will also have cradles mounted onto their deck. The engine is placed and secured into these cradles which assist in absorbing shock. Lastly, the airplane engine is covered by a tarp to protect it from the weather and the elements.

If you need information about how to transport all forms of aerospace equipment then look into our article about how to ship aerospace equipment.

What To Expect When Using AOG Shipping

A ground view of a commercial airliner flying above cargo containers

Receiving an AOG aircraft shipment calls for a good amount of work on behalf of the receiver. Your carrier may be responsible for getting your shipment to you but it’s your job to unload your shipment when it arrives

Equipment, Manpower and Space

Receiving an AOG shipment requires the right equipment and enough space. Unsurprisingly, aircraft parts are extremely large and heavy which calls for equipment strong enough to lift it. 

Cranes are the best option to go with when you need to unload aircraft from the trailer they arrive on. Once on the ground, aircraft parts can be moved with the use of forklifts.

Unloading a critical shipment of aircraft parts requires space for the parts to be unloaded from the trailer and placed somewhere safely. The equipment being used to unload the shipment also needs plenty of room to operate without them being in the way of other workers or other equipment. 

Getting parts delivered straight to the airport where the grounded plane is can be the best option. Airports have plenty of space where equipment used for unloading can pull in without being in the way of flights coming and going. 

Most importantly, it’s important to have the manpower to perform all of the various functions necessary to unload AOG freight. 

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.

Delays

Unfortunately, freight shipping delays are always a possibility when transporting freight and aircraft on ground shipments are no different. If one occurs, the receiver of the shipment will need to adjust accordingly. 

That means if the receiver is hiring a third party to unload their shipment for them on the original delivery date, they will have to hire the third party to return when a new arrival date is determined. 

How Much Will An AOG Shipment Cost?

The price of an AOG shipment is unique to each case. Most oversized loads have a shipping rate of $2 to $10 per mile. The table below shows how much-oversized loads will cost across the eight shipping lanes.

Shipping ZoneDistanceCost
Zone 10-50 miles$100-$500
Zone 251-100 miles$102-$1,000
Zone 3151-300 miles$302-$3,000
Zone 4301-600 miles$602-$6,000
Zone 5601-1,000 miles$1,202-$10,000
Zone 61,001-1,400 miles$2,000-$14,000
Zone 71,401-1,800 miles$2,802-$18,000
Zone 81,801 miles or more$18,010

Although these are the estimates for oversize loads across shipping lanes, numerous other factors contribute to the overall price of an AOG shipment.

 Factors such as these can impact how much a shipment will ultimately be:

  • Size
  • State Permits
  • Distance
  • Overdimensional

In addition to the factors above, receivers will also have to spend additional money if they choose to hire a third party to unload their freight for them. Because of all of these factors, giving even an estimate to how much your AOG shipment is impossible.

What Information a Carrier Will Need to Transport Your Aircraft Freight

A commercial airplane flying in the sky toward the sun

Carriers will require a good amount of information to transport your AOG shipment. This information will not only affect how much you will be charged for your shipment but will also help the carrier determine how to plan your shipment. 

Below is the information that R+L Global Logistics needs to organize an AOG shipment. 

  • Pickup and drop off information
  • What parts are being shipped
  • How many parts are being shipped
  • Weight and dimensions of the parts
  • Date for when the shipment needs are delivered

Use R+L Global Logistics for All Of Your AOG Needs

If you require AOG shipping services from a reliable carrier, then R+L Global Logistics can find you the perfect one. We have connections with carriers that offer a multitude of different services from all across the country. 
During many years of logistics services, we’ve assisted customers with anything from hazmat to heavy haul loads. With our services at your disposal, we can help you move just about any type of load. Submit your free quote today and reap the rewards of partnering with us.

Looking for a solution to move truckload freight? R+L Global Logistics handles truckload shipping. Let us know when and we'll handle the rest.
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