July 2016 Issue

Unsecured Cargo

Even if the items we’re carrying are relatively soft and light, failing to secure them can have a bad outcome.

One of the things primary students learn early during their ground-school training—perhaps before they ever get into an airplane—is that the items loaded into it can weigh no more than a certain amount, and have to go in certain places. Overloading the aircraft, and/or placing heavy items far from its nominal center of gravity, is bad, they’re told. Somewhere along the way, it might also be explained that those items need to be secured. But the common way we load airplanes—especially those in which the passenger cabin and the cockpit are the same space—is to throw some soft-sided luggage in the baggage compartment, maybe throw some heavy things in the back seats or the floorboard behind the front seats, and light the fires. Little thought usually is given to whether those items should be secured, or how. That’s in sharp contrast to how we treat the passengers.

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