International Shipping Guide

How To Ship An Airplane

Shipping an airplane comes with various logistical challenges. Learn about preparation, transport options, and logistical considerations.
how to ship an airplane
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Shipping an airplane comes with various logistical challenges—but with meticulous planning and coordination, they can reach their new home safely.

Whether by land, sea, or air, there are several modes of transport available. The aircraft’s dimensions, weight, and the distance it must travel must be considered in order to devise an appropriate strategy.

Choosing a reliable logistics company that specialises in airplane shipping ensures that the airplane is transported safely using proper equipment and that freight is compliant with all regulations.

Ultimately, the process of shipping an airplane is built on a framework of communication between multiple parties, from engineers and pilots to logistics managers and customs officials—all working in unison to ensure the aircraft is ready for transport.

Below, you’ll discover Powerhouse International QLD’s comprehensive guide on “How Are Planes Transported

Preparing for Airplane Shipment

Successful airplane shipment requires a comprehensive approach to ensure that all parts arrive at their destination safely and efficiently. This involves assessing requirements, carefully dismantling the aircraft, and organising its components.

Assessing Transport Requirements

Before an airplane can be shipped, one must determine the most appropriate method based on the aircraft’s size and the final destination. The dimensions and weight of the disassembled or partially disassembled airplane play a crucial role in this decision. Each of its parts, such as the fuselage, wings, and engines, has transport requirements.

  • Fuselage (main body of an aircraft): May require a specialised freighter due to its large size.
  • Wings: Often transported separately.
  • Engines: Heavy components need secure crating for protection during transit.

Table 1: Typical Small Aircraft

Part Weight Special Requirements
Fuselage >5,000kg Specialised freighter for oversized load transport
Wings 1,000kg Wide-load conveyance
Engine 2,000kg Shock-proof crating
transporting airplane overseas

Aircraft Disassembly

Aircraft are typically shipped in parts and assembled at the delivery location. Here’s what you need to know about aircraft disassembly and shipping: 

Dismantling an airplane must be performed with precision and care to safeguard each component’s integrity. Trained professionals ensure that the disassembly accounts for the intricate network of parts. The process typically follows this sequence:

  1. Wing Removal: Detached using specific tools and machinery, preventing structural damage.
  2. Engine Disassembly: Engines are carefully separated from the wing or fuselage.
  3. Removing of Fuel and Dangerous Materials: Involves draining fuel tanks and removing batteries
  4. Component Segregation: All parts are categorised and prepared for packing.

Organizing Aircraft Part Shipping

Once aircraft disassembly is completed, the components must be prepared for shipment. This includes:

  • Packing: Using protective materials to prevent damage during loading and unloading.
  • Loading: Strategically placing the parts in the transport vehicle to maximise space and maintain balance.
  • Documentation: Detailed logging of each part’s dimensions, weight, and specific handling instructions to ensure all guidelines are followed throughout the shipping process.

By following these steps, those involved in shipping an airplane can guarantee that it’s transported without delays, arrives safely, and is ready for reassembly.

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Case Studies

Complex Cargo

Requiring A Blend Of Services

The Challenge:

We were contacted by a client who made preparations to row a boat all the way from the USA to Australia. Their concern was that there was a very narrow weather window on when the row could be commenced and they could not afford the goods to be damaged in transit.

See our solution
Complex Cargo

Transporting A Commercial Aircraft by land and sea

The Challenge:

The Qantas Museum in Longreach purchased a large commercial aircraft (Lockheed Super Constellation) from the Philippines which had been residing in a grass paddock (beside the main airport runway) since 1986. This model of aircraft had been used extensively by Qantas on their long haul international flights and would be a vital component of the Qantas story at the museum. They contacted us initially as the plane was in no condition to fly and they required a specialist project logistics company to help them arrange the extraction, dismantling and transport to Australia.

See our solution
Complex Cargo

Transporting Inaccessible oversize Cargo

The Challenge:

The owner of a large Combined Harvester had successfully sold their machine to a sugar cane plantation in Fiji. Once this transaction had been completed they contacted a number of international forwarding specialists to get a quote on arranging all the transport requirements. Unfortunately, due to the challenges involved, they were unable to find anyone who was interested in assisting.

They contacted Powerhouse Queensland after a referral from one of the project carriers in our network. We began the process with an onsite meeting to view the goods and assess all possible transportation options. The first challenge was that the machine itself had been positioned at the rear of a large residential block for some years and due to property changes in the area had become inaccessible.

See our solution
Sea Freight

Strategizing For A Restricted Budget

The Challenge:

A cruise company in Airlie beach purchased 2 landing barges from Thailand which they planned to use for transporting tourists to remote coral cays and islands in the Whitsundays.
The transport costs they had received from other logistic companies exceeded their budget and they contacted Powerhouse Queensland to see if we could provide a more cost effective solution.

See our solution

    Selecting a Shipping Method

    When shipping an airplane, one must carefully select a method that ensures safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. The chosen carrier and the specifics of the transportation options available play crucial roles in this process.

    How Are Planes Transported?

    When shipping an airplane, understanding the available transport methods is key to finding the most suitable option. The options typically include:

    • Open-air flatbed (by land): Suitable for short distances. However, this method leaves the aircraft exposed to the elements, which is why it might not be ideal for certain conditions or longer distances.
    • Aircraft disassembly and shipping by sea: A common choice for international transport, this method involves aircraft disassembly and shipping it in containers. It provides better protection but requires reassembly upon arrival.
    • A dedicated cargo aircraft (shipping by air): Used for long-range transport. This option is often the quickest but can be the most costly, depending on fuel prices and other economic factors.

    The best-choice shipping method will depend on the airplane’s size, weight, and the carrier’s capabilities.

    Insurance and Protection

    Securing comprehensive insurance should be non-negotiable in airplane transport. Ensure that you’ve opted for an insurance policy that covers potential damage during transit, including loss, theft, or environmental damage.

    One should work closely with the carrier to fully understand the terms of the insurance coverage and ensure that it aligns with the value and specifications of the airplane. Additional protection measures, such as custom crating or cushioning for sensitive components, must be discussed with the carrier as well to mitigate risks.


    Legal and Logistical Considerations

    Successfully shipping an airplane involves a meticulous assessment of documentation requirements and a strategic approach to the logistics. Below, you’ll discover the importance of handling documentation, ensuring compliance, and what potential logistical challenges you need to be aware of.

    Handling Documentation and Ensuring Compliance

    How are airplanes transported seamlessly across borders? Collating all necessary documentation for customs and regulatory compliance plays a key role. This includes:

    • Export documentation: permits and declarations required by the country of origin.
    • Import documentation: clearance forms necessary for the destination country.
    • Transport documentation: packing lists, insurance certificates, and airwaybills, if applicable.

    For Australian operations, compliance with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations must be a priority. It’s imperative that exporters research and secure approvals from all relevant authorities early on in the planning process, ensuring adherence to international aviation standards.

    Documentation must reflect any components subject to export controls or tariffs and must reflect transparency in the shipment’s contents and value. Failure to comply can lead to delays, fines, or even seizing of the vehicle.

    Confronting Logistical Challenges

    Component Consideration
    Budget Outlining all expected costs
    Delivery Schedule Setting realistic timelines, factoring in potential delays.
    Road Transport Verifying route viability, identifying potential obstacles (overpasses and tunnels), obtaining necessary permits for oversized loads, and scheduling road closures if required.
    Assembly Ensuring that the delivery location is ready to accommodate aircraft assembly

    Choosing the Right Carrier

    The selection of a carrier is pivotal, as it affects the airplane’s safety, as well as the cost and duration of the transport. It’s essential to evaluate carriers based on their expertise in aircraft transportation. Make it a point to verify their credentials, experience in handling oversized cargo, and their record for timely delivery. This way, you can ship airplanes with ease and peace of mind.
    Why Choose Us?

    The Powerhouse Difference

    Streamline delivery to your destination with a fully integrated logistics service

    At Powerhouse International, we stand at the forefront of freight forwarding services in Brisbane and across the globe, with our expertise and dedication shining through in every aspect of our work. Boasting more than three decades of experience in international logistics and armed with cutting-edge IT technology, we deliver an unbeatable combination of competitive pricing and a wide array of transportation solutions.

    Allow our seasoned professionals to tailor the most economical and efficient transport strategies for your goods, whether you're shipping from Brisbane or to destinations far and wide.

    Get in touch today

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    (+61) 7 3868 2468
    Unit 5/50 French St, Eagle Farm 4009 Brisbane, Australia