A review of the current operation of the air cargo system and a discussion of the prospects for the future indicate that if technological innovations can be brought to maturity and implemented, and if the efficiency of the interface with the surface mode can be improved, the air mode would show an unprecedented growth. Air cargo demand is forecasted to increase in a dynamic manner. Estimates vary between 11-16%/yr between now and the 1990s. These forecasts convervatively indicate a fourfold increase in air cargo traffic between 1975 and 1985. Specialized, advanced terminals will be required to support the air cargo system of the future. A synergetic approach is imperative. Intermodal containers, automated handling systems and computerized control and billing may be key ingredients. Farsighted planning for tomorrow's air freight center is in evidence; the town of Coalinga, California, is studying the system requirements and the potential benefit of serving as a worldwide aerial trade center. Other nations, particularly in Europe, are seriously considering a freight distribution network using advanced freighter aircraft. NASA and industry studies indicate that large gains in aircraft payload and fuel efficiency are possible from the application of advanced technologies and configuration concepts. Recent results have indicated that for containerized payloads exceeding about 0.3 Gg (600,000 lb), the spandistributed-load concept provides savings in operating costs over advanced fuselage-loaded designs. The distributed-load concept benefits from reduced bending material and from part commonality. ?? 1977.
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