Malaysia Airlines’ cargo arm MASkargo flew its maiden cargo-in-cabin flight from Pudong, China to Melbourne using an Airbus 330-300 passenger aircraft on 11 August.
The flight from China carried approximately 5,000 boxes of sterile isolation gowns for healthcare workers in Melbourne, which were strapped on the seats, stowed in the overheard compartments, and stashed in the belly of the aircraft.
Previously, MASkargo only received approval to have cargo under the seats and in the closets and overhead compartments for its passenger-to-cargo (P2C) flights. With cargo now allowed on passenger seats, the cargo carrier aptly gave the P2C flight a new code and called it “CIC90”.
“Not all types of cargo can be loaded in the cabin. We have restrictions on certain types of shipments to avoid flight safety issues. The Malaysia Aviation Group team made up of MABKargo, Airport Operations, Aero Darat Services, Corporate Safety, Engineering Technical Services, AMAL and Flight Operations jointly developed procedures which was subsequently approved by the Civil Aviation Authorities of Malaysia (CAAM) in operating a CIC flight in April,” explained Che Adenan Che Wan, MASkargo’s freighter operations senior manager.
To ensure that the boxes were tightly strapped on the cabin seats, MASkargo used specialised straps for cargo called brow lines to avoid dislodgement during flight. Meanwhile, meal carts filled with water containers acted as ballasts to avoid offloading of cargo due to aircraft trimming.
Loading in Shanghai was done within three hours, MASkargo added, which was quite a feat considering the detailed strapping down needed for the “seated” boxes.
With the fresh set of Covid-19 cases in China, the cargo carrier said its flight crew had to wear full protective gear following new safety guidelines from authorities.
Flight MH 387 departed the Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 0150LT and arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 0720LT for refuelling and crew change before taking off for Melbourne at 1010LT.
MASkargo first operated a cargo-in-cabin flight in May from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne.