Wall Street Journal: U.S. Joining Global Push Allowing Cargo Shipments in Passenger Jet Cabins

04/14/2020

Regulators seek to smooth the flow of critical medical supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic

U.S. air-safety regulators, seeking to make it easier for airlines to ramp up transportation of cargo aimed at combating the pandemic, are poised to allow such shipments in the cabins of passenger planes, according to people familiar with the issue.

The new guidance is slated to be issued in the coming days, they said, and is expected to resemble earlier moves by carriers and foreign aviation authorities from Canada to Ethiopia and the Middle East.

Normally, operating restrictions and aircraft structural limits mean passenger jets must put all cargo in the bellies of aircraft. But in consultation with plane makers and airlines, Federal Aviation Administration officials are ready to lift those restrictions in order to give U.S. airlines greater flexibility to satisfy swiftly changing shipping demand around the world.

On Saturday, Air Canada said it was reconfiguring three of its Boeing Co. 777 passenger airliners into all-cargo jets aimed at transporting vital medical supplies and other time-sensitive items. By removing seats, the airline said it can double the aircraft’s original cargo capacity.

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