What’s flying with you on board the aircraft?
You might never stop to consider it, but while you are enjoying your in-flight film, all kinds of things are travelling right along with you aboard your flight! Your fellow passengers, the aircraft personnel and everyone's baggage, sure. But we load much more than that into your aircraft: everything from cargo and mail to the occasional large animal!
By: Ruud, apron staff for Swissport
Going along in the ‘belly’
Last year, 1.6 million tonnes of cargo were transported via Schiphol. Forty per cent of that cargo simply goes right along on board passenger aircraft. In the ‘belly’, as we say. The cargo is transported in the belly of the aircraft, below or behind the section where you and the other passengers are sitting. Particularly the intercontinental flights involving larger aircraft tend to take along extra cargo.
Flying with peppers
So what might you expect to find in your aircraft? Mostly goods that need to get from A to B quickly: vegetables, fruit, medicines, clothing, smartphones and medical equipment – but sometimes large animals like horses, too. Flowers are the principal import commodity of the Netherlands. From growers in East Africa and South America, they are flown into our airport and brought to sale at the flower auction in Aalsmeer. A (somewhat) lesser-known fact: did you know that peppers are the major export commodity of the Netherlands?? Most of these peppers end up on flights to the United States.
Mailbags, water and kerosene
Besides cargo, many other things will travel in your aircraft as well. This includes fuel for the aircraft, drinking water and water for the toilets, enough food and drinks for you and your fellow passengers, of course – but also mailbags full of letters and parcels. My colleagues and I load all of it into the aircraft before you even board.
Load 'm up!
Before we start, we receive loading instructions on how to load a given aircraft. These instructions tell us exactly which cargo to put where in the aircraft; where the baggage should be loaded and how many pieces; where the mail needs to go, and so forth. That way, we can ensure that the aircraft's centre of gravity is in precisely the right position, so that your trip can get off to a flying start!