Air transport has become a mode of transport widely used by a wide range of industries and companies. Air freight is becoming an increasingly better alternative for shipping goods quickly and safely.

This branch of the logistics industry uses cargo aircraft capable of optimally storing and carrying all types of cargo.

Let’s take a closer look at what cargo aircraft are and how air transport has the necessary infrastructure to be a benchmark in international logistics Take note!


What is a cargo aircraft

The cargo aircraft is a type of aircraft that can have different sizes, and are designed specifically for the shipment of goods.

The characteristics of cargo aircraft are completely different from those of passenger aircraft, as they no longer integrate the same design model as the latter.

Although, as we will see below, there are aircraft that can combine both passenger and cargo transport.


Cargo Aircraft Characteristics

Within international logistics, air transport is becoming increasingly important, as it is the most capable of transporting over long distances without the impediments of land or sea transport.

There is no doubt that storage space is one of the most important features, depending on the type of goods this will vary in one way or another. But not only space, but ease of loading and unloading is also an important factor.

In short, cargo aircraft are specially designed for the transport of goods, but also for their efficient loading and unloading.

There is a wide range of options for cargo aircraft, we are going to list the most commonly used ones, giving a brief description of their specific characteristics.


Types of aircraft for cargo transportation

As we have already mentioned, freight transport is not similar to passenger transport for obvious reasons, although sometimes we can find mixed models for both passenger and cargo transport.

Different aircraft models are used for the shipment of goods. Let’s take a look at a short list of the most common cargo aircraft in international logistics.


Passenger and cargo aircraft. (PAX)

PAX is the term used in aviation to refer to passengers. Many aircraft combine passenger and cargo transportation. They are aircraft designed to be able to store a portion of goods, without losing the functionality and comfort necessary for the transport of people.

Cargo aircraft. (CAO)

The acronym CAO refers to cargo aircraft only. There is a label to mark this type of aircraft (CAO). Therefore, we are talking about aircraft designed only for the transport of goods. Its structure and functionality is based on the loading, shipping and unloading of goods. There is no room for passenger transportation.

Cargo aircraft models

As we have already mentioned, there are different models of cargo aircrafts, the following are the most common in the logistics sector.

Boeing 747 – 400 ERF

It is a classic cargo aircraft with a capacity of 112 tons, larger than its predecessors. It offers the possibility of 6 seats per flight for customers accompanying their cargo.

In addition, it is a popular choice for more complex loads, due to its large front and side doors. It has a range of 9,200km with maximum payload.



Boeing 747 Freighter

Another large cargo aircraft model, it stands out for emitting 18% less CO2 compared to its predecessors.

Some of its important characteristics:

  • Load: 1840.59 m³ (65,000 ft³)
  • Length: 71.68 m
  • Main rotor diameter: 8,38 m
  • Wingspan: 64.44 m
  • Height: 21.54 m
  • Empty weight: 180,530 kg
  • Maximum take-off weight: 364.235 kg


Mixed Cargo Aircraft

Mixed cargo aircraft are those that, as their name suggests, are capable of transporting both cargo and passengers. Its special design makes it adaptable for these two very different types of cargo.

Passengers are in the cabin and cargo in the aircraft hold.

Mixed Cargo Aircraft Models

Some of the most commonly used models for mixed transport, both for cargo and passengers, are:

Airbus 320/Airbus 321

Unlike the Airbus 319, both the 320 and 321 have a longer operating distance, around 3500 to 5600 km. They have the possibility to load pallets with a large base, but with a lower height than other aircraft.

Airbus 330/Airbus 340

Two large aircraft with significant performance for the transport of goods. The 340 model stores goods in its hold and has a wide operational range of 12,000 to 15,000 km. Its design allows easy loading and unloading of pallets, with a maximum capacity of 16 tons.

The 330 model has a load capacity of 5 pallets plus loose cargo. Maximum load capacity 10.3 tons.

Boeing 737

Typical model for short distances, between 2700 and 4650 km. It can transport loose cargo up to 2 tons.

Boeing 777-200

This model has a longer range than the previous one, reaching an operating range of 12,000 km. With a capacity of up to 18 tons, it stands out for the possibility of transporting up to 6 pallets.

Boeing 747

One of the models with the highest capacity and operating range. It can reach flights of up to 13300 Km depending on the model. It can load both front and rear pallets (up to 6). It has large, wide doors that facilitate the loading and unloading of merchandise.



These are aircraft designed to transport large goods that stand out for their large dimensions.

Supercarrier aircraft models

Of this type of supercarrier aircraft for large loads, two models stand out in particular:

Airbus 300-600 ST

Large aircraft intended for the loading of large cargo, e.g. helicopters or smaller aircraft. It is also called “Beluga”, due to its resemblance to this animal, as we can see in the image.

It has a flight range of 1667 km and a maximum payload capacity of 47 tons. Its cargo area is located under the cabin allowing loading throughout the aircraft.


Antonov 225 Mriya

This is the largest model of aircraft for the transport of goods.
transport of goods.
. With a maximum capacity of 250 tons and a flight range of 4000 km.

A large aircraft that can transport large volumes of cargo of important dimensions.