Analysis of Air cargo temperature variations during transport operations

W. Pelletier, K. V. Chau, R. A. Bucklin, J. K. Brecht, D. W. Hahn, J. P. Émond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Air transport has unique characteristics that are essential for the transport of perishable products. However, temperature variations during air transport operations may be detrimental to temperature-sensitive products such as fresh horticultural crops, seafood, pharmaceuticals, and others. The literature on the subject remains scarce. In-flight temperatures were monitored during six international shipments using an aircraft container loaded with simulated perishable products. Results highlighted the overriding impact of solar radiation on temperature distribution within aircraft containers during ramp transfers. Extended ramp transfer durations were observed, and for three shipments the total time, outside, on the tarmac exceeded 11 h, resulting in an average product temperature increase of as much as 13°C. In-flight conditions had a smaller impact on the temperature distribution within the load of products. Tests indicated that the core region of the load was exposed to the smallest rate of heat transfer, and the top layer was exposed to the largest rate of heat transfer. Cold room storage of a fully loaded aircraft container proved to be a very inefficient cooling method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-732
Number of pages10
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Aircraft container
  • Horticultural products
  • In-flight
  • Perishables
  • Ramp
  • Tarmac

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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