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Paramount Group, the global aerospace and technology company, announced today that its multi-mission, Mwari aerial platform has been equipped with advanced anti-drone technologies, enabling the deployment of the aircraft as an effective hunter and killer of Medium Altitude and Long Endurance Drones (MALEs).

The clean-sheet designed Mwari is the next evolution in ‘Find, Fix & Finish’ technologies optimized for the anti-drone defence environment, capable of engaging MALE drones at altitudes of 20,000-30,000 feet, where only highly sophisticated and costly ground-based air defence systems (GBADS) can reach, and which would otherwise require the intervention of fighter jets.

Advanced sensors, an extended range, and pinpoint accuracy are at the forefront of the Mwari’s innovative system design, making the platform an ideal solution for the threats posed by MALE drones to the territorial integrity of sovereign nations.

The Mwari is capable of loitering at a minimum speed of 110kts for up to 10 hours of flight time (with optional external fuel tanks for added endurance). It can be fully equipped with new generation, multi-role air-to-air missiles (with an engagement range of 4,000m) alongside rapid-fire, wing-mounted cannon pods (with an engagement range of 800m), offering the latest in advanced anti-drone lethality.

This capability builds on inherent onboard situational awareness technologies such as an encrypted, high-bandwidth data link and multi-spectrum search and track sensors, long range optical and radar surveillance systems, a SA7 CRM – Satellite Communication link, AIS – Ship ID Systems and real-time video; today, mission-critical hardware and software which can assess targets, including MALEs in the 2,000 kg class, typically flown in high altitude surveillance patterns.

Superior crew and sensor visibility of the unique Mwari design provides ultimate situational awareness, either during day or night, ensuring that the aerial platform can undertake a wide range of missions, in austere and remote environments and on unprepared runways while requiring a limited logistical footprint.

Steve Griessel, CEO of Paramount Group, stated that, “Historically, prohibitive costs have restricted anti-drone systems targeting MALE drone threats. Amidst this paradigm is where the Mwari perfectly steps in, the next and best-in-class precision technology, and able to operate at a fraction of the cost of alternative anti-drone solutions. No other singular aircraft has such an intuitive multi-mission application or can reach similar altitudes while hosting what is the industry’s gold standard in situational awareness technology.”

An Interchangeable Multi-Mission System Bay (IMSB) located in the fuselage further allows for system changes ‘on the fly;’ updates, additions, and integrations in real-time are made possible, ensuring that the single airframe can be easily re-configured for different missions.

Despite hosting such highly advanced technologies, the Mwari can be rapidly disassembled, transported in a C-130 or equivalent, and reassembled at a remote base, by a small crew with minimal infrastructure.

“We look forward to leveraging the innovative Mwari’s robust applications as the pre-eminent anti-drone defence solution and to its exciting next steps in adoption by our global partners,” Griesel concluded.

Drawing on both Paramount Group’s commitment to innovation and its extensive research and development (R&D) and manufacturing experience, the Mwari has been designed with portable production in mind. The aircraft could, depending on customer requirements, be exported in kit format for final assembly in customer countries and can easily integrate into supply chains around the world, enabling scalable mass production.


About Paramount Group

Paramount Group is a global aerospace and technology company, a leader in defence and security innovation and is a trusted partner to sovereign governments around the world, providing ground-breaking products, services and consultancy, including support for peacekeeping missions. Please visit for more information and follow us on Twitter.


Titanium Prices to Keep Elevated on Production Shortages and Rising Demand from the Paint and Aerospace Industries

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Titanium Ores and Concentrates – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

In the first half of 2021, prices for titanium and its derivatives shot up in response to rising demand and a drop in titanium mining last year, as well as titanium shaving stocks reduction. The rebound in the chemical and aerospace industries is a key driver for the rising demand for the metal. The potential use of titanium derivatives in alternative energy is set to stimulate further market expansion. Robust demand expectations are to keep prices elevated in the immediate term.

Key Trends and Insights

In 2021, the recovering demand from the downstream industries led to an increase in titanium prices. According to data from Asian Metal, the price for Chinese titanium sponge rose from a low of $6.9 per kg in July 2020 to $10.5 per kg in June 2021.

The prices of titanium scrap jumped in 2021 due to a drop in global stocks of shavings, a byproduct of aircraft manufacturing. According to IndexBox estimates, the average import price for titanium scrap increased from $2.9 per kg in January 2021 to $4.1 in April 2021. During this period, the import price for titanium dioxide increased from $2.6 to $3.2 per kg, while the import price for titanium fluctuated within the range of $11.3 – $14.7 per kg. Strong expectations of further market growth are expected to drive prices further in the medium term, at least until any new positive data on titanium mining will arrive.

According to IndexBox estimates based on USGS data, the global production of titanium ores and concentrates in 2020 decreased by 1.2% y-o-y to 13M tonnes. The 2020 lockdowns led to a drop in demand for titanium concentrates from stagnating chemical, metallurgical and aerospace industries. The pandemic-related mine closures were also a factor behind the production drop.

The growth in demand for titanium from the paint and varnish industries remains the main market driver. Titanium dioxide is one of the most sought-after pigments and fillers in the paint, coating and plastics industries. The demand for paints and varnishes is growing markedly due to the construction boom and the recovery of the automotive industry. The rising trend in the construction of super-large container ships will be relevant in the medium term and should sharpen the need for paints with titanium dioxide.

The reopening of air travel and water transport will increase the need for the renewal of aircraft fleets and will lead to a further increase in demand for titanium as it is the main metal used in their construction. One of the world’s largest airliner manufacturers, Airbus, has announced plans to expand production, expecting the demand for airliners to recover to pre-crisis levels within the next two years. According to quarterly reports for 2021, Boeing and Airbus increased aircraft deliveries in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2020, which indicates a recovery in demand.

The commercialization of technology for manufacturing semiconductor photocatalysts based on titanium dioxide, which are used for hydrogen fuel production, water and air purification, etc, may act as a new stimulus for the titanium market to develop. Industrial filters based on titanium dioxide neutralize organic gas emissions by converting them into carbon dioxide and water. This process could become a cheaper alternative to the traditional after-burning of factory off-gases. Titanium dioxide can be used in manufacturing solar cells and batteries. This technology could compete commercially with traditional silicon batteries if the efficiency of titanium dioxide batteries can be raised by up to 30%.

Global Titanium Ore Production by Country

In 2020, after two years of growth, there was a decline in the production of titanium ores and concentrates, when its volume decreased by -1.2% to 13M tonnes. In value terms, titanium ore and concentrate production shrank slightly to $7.8B in 2020 estimated in export prices.

The countries with the highest volumes of titanium ore and concentrate production in 2020 were China (4.2M tonnes), Canada (2.1M tonnes) and Mozambique (1M tonnes), with a combined 56% share of global production. These countries were followed by South Africa, Australia, Ukraine, Norway, Senegal, Madagascar, Kenya, South Korea, India and Viet Nam, which together accounted for a further 40%. Moreover, titanium ore and concentrate production in China exceeded the figures recorded by the world’s second-largest producer, Canada, twofold.

From 2012 to 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of titanium ore and concentrate production, amongst the leading producing countries, was attained by Senegal, while titanium ore and concentrate production for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Global Titanium Ore Exports by Country

In 2020, shipments abroad of titanium ores and concentrates decreased by -20.3% to 3.1M tonnes, falling for the third year in a row after two years of growth. In value terms, titanium ore and concentrate exports fell to $1.3B (IndexBox estimates) in 2020.

In 2020, South Africa (724K tonnes), Ukraine (539K tonnes), Senegal (509K tonnes), Kenya (400K tonnes), South Korea (275K tonnes) and India (255K tonnes) represented the key exporter of titanium ores and concentrates in the world, achieving 86% of total export. It was distantly followed by Australia (152K tonnes), committing a 4.8% share of total exports. The U.S. (58K tonnes) took a little share of total exports.

In value terms, South Africa ($486M) remains the largest titanium ore and concentrate supplier worldwide, comprising 38% of global exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Kenya ($157M), with a 12% share of global exports. It was followed by Ukraine, with a 11% share.

In 2020, the average titanium ore and concentrate export price amounted to $408 per tonne, rising by 19% against the previous year. From 2012 to 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Kenya, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Platform


EU Imposes Tariffs on U.S. Following WTO Decision on Subsidies to Boeing

The European Union (EU) has imposed additional tariffs on approximately $4 billion worth of U.S. goods, after a World Trade Organization (WTO) decision last month authorized proportionate retaliation against the U.S. for its subsidies to Boeing.

According to the European Commission’s (EC) Implementing Regulation (“the Regulation”), published in the Official Journal of the European Union on November 9, 2020, negotiations with the U.S. to settle the dispute over subsidies to their respective aircraft industries “have so far not yielded results,” while the U.S. still maintains tariffs on approximately $7.5 billion worth of European goods as a result of a parallel WTO decision authorizing U.S. retaliation against the EU.

Effective upon the date of publication, the EC has adopted duty rates of 15% for civil aircraft and aircraft parts under the tariff codes 8802.40.0013, 8802.40.0015, 8802.40.0017, 8802.40.0019, and 8802.40.0021. A rate of 25% was adopted for all other listed U.S.-origin imports. The list of goods subject to 25% tariffs, with product descriptions, can be viewed here. The rates of 15% and 25% reflect the rates currently imposed by the U.S. on imports of EU-origin goods.

In U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer’s statement in response to the EU’s announcement of retaliatory tariffs, he expressed disappointment and noted that the main subsidy to Boeing—a Washington State Business & Occupation tax break—that was alleged at the WTO was repealed earlier this year.


Julia Banegas is an attorney in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office.

Emily Lyons is an attorney in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office.

Camron Greer is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.


How Tech and Innovation has Propelled the Private Jet Industry to New Heights

Do you need to book a last-minute private jet flight from your phone using cryptocurrency?

Leading private jet companies like Monarch Air Group have understood that investing in technology in this shared economy is instrumental to serve a technology-driven pool of customers. As President David Gitman stated, “having the capacity to adapt to customer expectations and behaviors will lead to higher levels of trust and satisfaction.” In other words, being able to meet the needs of today’s dynamic and fast-paced environment is paramount for the long-term success of the entire private jet industry. And technology is the key for that relationship.

The Fort Lauderdale-based firm was one of the first in the industry to accept digital currencies to book their charter flights. This came as a response to their client’s needs, an extremely fast-shifting group of customers. “The days when private aviation only served large corporations and multimillionaires are long gone. Today, with the rise of the millennials and the need for more reliable and safe ways of transportation, private aviation is experiencing a true shift in demand. Adapting to those new requirements is our commitment”, said Gitman.

From market research to booking apps and instant quoting systems, the business aviation market is using all available tools to understand what drives clients towards their service. Do they travel for business or pleasure? What is the best way to stay connected with each client and receive feedback? All these questions give relevant information to improve customer service and satisfaction and make each passenger’s flight highly tailored and unique.

A fast-paced environment

The flexibility and agility of private aviation are also represented in the capacity to adapt to new technologies and innovations. Tailoring every aspect of the experience to the customer and making passengers really feel in control of their flight process defines private jet flight. Choosing the departure and landing point, the aircraft, in-flight amenities, ground transportation and method of payment is only possible thanks to technology.

Although planes are fast, time efficiency can be affected if the right equipment is not in place to serve the passengers. Innovative live quoting tools, instant bookings, and cryptocurrency-based payments lead the way today. Monarch Air Group launched a unique charter cost calculator to provide users a faster and easier way to receive a quote. Once users are prompted to select, they can decide on an option depending on the distance and desired aircraft type. Upon making their selection, the user’s flight request is then submitted to a group of Account Executives who will assist clients in finalizing their travel plans in just minutes.

This technology-driven booking functionality enables customers to make all their travel arrangements on their phone, also providing text or chat, video conference, and even video messaging features to connect with the client.

High expectations

Entrepreneurs are gaining relevance within this segment and expect charter companies to move as fast as their businesses. They need the aircraft ready after they book it through the smartphone in their pockets and do not want more steps in the process, like confirmation phone calls (they prefer text, video, or even email), and possible last-minute setbacks. They also have a need for a quiet in-flight experience. Their aircraft must be equipped with the latest technology to provide a working space along with a relaxed atmosphere.

Their fast-paced world is well paired with private air travel. Time efficiency is this sector’s main asset. Take-off in minutes after arriving at the terminal with no check-in lines and landing at the private airport that is closest to the destination. Private aviation adapts completely to a business environment where time is money.

“The need to exceed expectations is paramount as well as understanding the dynamic trends developing at unparalleled speed. The technology within this industry is second to none, from a user standpoint (booking and payment) and a safety and maintenance perspective. Accounting all these variables will help us deliver an all-around exceptional service”, concludes Gitman.

Modern aircraft and top-notch facilities are important, although an agile business model will be the difference-maker in today’s economy. Technology, innovation, and flexibility will. Paying for a flight on the spot with cryptocurrencies, credit, or debit cards are solutions driven by technology, although remaining flexible to the client’s requests and working towards solutions instead of excuses is driven by superior customer service; pairing both aspects will lead this industry to achieve new heights.


Global Private Jet Predictions after COVID-19

The global pandemic has changed the way we travel. Concerns regarding the hygiene of commercial aircraft and how crowded terminals may play a role in the transmission of the virus have taken the aviation industry by storm. Today, six months after the initial reports of coronavirus cases in the western hemisphere, there are enough trends to project how the aviation industry will behave in a post-pandemic environment. Private air charter solutions company Monarch Air Group weighs in.

Change of perception for private aviation

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of the population still perceived private aviation as a luxurious means of transportation reserved only for the wealthy. With a change in travel restrictions and growing safety concerns, this segment has started to serve a new pool of travelers seeking a reliable and secure way to fly, far away from the concerns of a commercial flight. It is possible that not all of them will continue flying private when they find out commercial aviation is safe once again (whenever that might be in the future), although some of them might continue flying at least on an occasional basis. This change in perception only benefits the industry as a whole.

Turboprops have demonstrated their value

Linked to the previous topic, turboprops, as the most cost-effective option for a private flight, has been the go-to option for most new travelers in this segment. Especially for shorter routes of less than 3 hours, single and twin-engine turboprops serve as the perfect transition from commercial aviation. Passengers get to use a private terminal, they escape the crowded airports, they get to choose who they travel with, enjoy a comfortable aircraft and almost at half the price than a small jet. Turboprops like the Pilatus PC12N and the King Air 350i have demonstrated their real value as private air workhorses and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Diversification as a safety net

The flexibility of private aviation has been a coveted asset worth paying for. The possibility to depart from almost any airport and to choose from thousands of different aircraft at any moment is second to none. Nevertheless, the global pandemic has demonstrated that private aviation also provides flexibility to the global travel industry, and not only to the private passenger, having served governments with repatriation flights, humanitarian missions, and cargo charters. This diversification has also allowed the different players in the industry to maintain the number of operations and flight hours, proving that the flexibility of this market goes way beyond luxury.

Carbon footprint discussion

Private aviation has been publicly scrutinized due to its carbon footprint compared to commercial aviation, even though leading private air companies have implemented programs to offset the carbon emission. While the amount of fuel burnt by a private jet is a lot less than a commercial aircraft, and therefore CO2 emitted is also a lot lower, private planes carry fewer people, sometimes even one per route, meaning they’re considerably less efficient, and the personal carbon footprint of passengers who choose to travel this way is much higher. The previous discussion has come to a standstill amidst the coronavirus pandemic (and probably will continue this way), because the main concern today is maximizing safety (avoid infection), while maintaining high levels of efficiency, something that commercial aviation cannot guarantee in the near future.

Full recovery of the market

While diversification is a great asset, the core demand of this industry is generated by business trips, sporting events, weddings, and overall leisure. Although Monarch Air Group has reported a sustainable growth in demand during the last two months, until the aforementioned events don’t regain full shape, it is hard to determine when full recovery of the market will occur, because they all depend on local restrictions.

Private aviation has passed the test imposed by COVID-19 by demonstrating its diverse pool of services, its safety and cost-efficiency, demystifying what so many commercial passengers thought before experiencing this service, positioning itself as a more approachable and accessible means of transportation. It is safe to say that private aviation will have a higher and more diverse demand than before the outbreak, fueled by new clients that have recognized that flexibility, safety, dependability, and superior customer service doesn’t necessarily mean a higher price.


Established in 2006, Monarch Air Group is a leading provider of on-demand private jet charter, aircraft management, and long-term aircraft lease. Among Monarch’s customers are Fortune 500 corporations, leading entrepreneurs, Government agencies, and world-leading NGO’s.

private aviation

How Small Companies are Shaping the Future of Private Aviation

Executive aviation has a strong reputation based on its reliability, cost-efficiency, and flexibility, three key variables that have changed how companies are doing business all over the world. Kyle Patel, CEO of South Florida based BitLux shares his thoughts.

Time is a valuable commodity across markets. How a business can achieve, in less time, the delivery of a product or service, without undermining quality, is the building block for success. This is the case for small, medium, and large companies; they are all tied to time-bound experiences towards their clients. How does this connect to private aviation?

For small and medium corporations, with fewer employees and overall budget, accomplishing more in less time is vital to remain relevant, especially amid the pandemic outbreak. This translates in less time wasted in the airport, arriving closer to the destination, and departing right after delivering a product. Say goodbye to waiting for a late commercial flight back to your home base and welcome the possibility to depart from a regional or domestic airport at any time.

The previous is decisive in the success of smaller companies, in constant search for underdeveloped markets with the purpose to get where multinational corporations still haven’t found interest in taking action. This often means moving to locations with no airline connections; exactly where private aviation thrives by landing in secondary airports that don’t fit larger aircraft and reducing, sometimes even in hours, lengthy and costly ground transfers before reaching the destination.

There’s a misconception that executive aviation is only for Fortune 500 companies and powerful CEO’s. The access to this segment has risen during the past years thanks to an increase in availability, a change in perception and competitive prices worldwide. Private aviation serves entrepreneurs, small and medium business owners in a mission to satisfy their needs and meet even their most ambitious growth plans, thanks to a much sounder management of time.

Global trend powered by turboprops

Worldwide and especially in emerging markets where large jet aircraft are still scarce, small businesses rely on turboprops. Small towns with secondary airports are a great example. BitLux, a private aviation company based in Palm Beach, has ample experience connecting isolated regions within the state and country, taking passengers to places where commercial aviation lacks presence, thus connecting small-town businesses to various opportunities.

Many of these companies and clients can’t rely on the visit of major airline carriers. However, several regional airports serve the purpose of business aviation while also attending specific needs of local clients. It’s the case of a small-town IT company in Oregon, showcased by the No Plane, No gain campaign, which relies on private aviation to serve its clients.

Never heard of No Plane, No Gain? It started in 2010 as an effort between the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, with the purpose to educate the public on the importance of private aviation for its communities, companies, and citizens. Today, 10 years down the runway, it remains strong and serves as a source of information for debates about the future of the industry.

In essence, it’s challenging not to prefer private aviation over commercial. Less time invested in flights, the possibility to depart earlier if a meeting ends ahead of schedule, staying more time at a certain location without missing the flight back home, and reducing uncertainties while managing time. All these features help justify, in a tangible way, the use of business aviation.


BitLux provides executive jet charter and cargo charter brokerage services in the most thorough, safe, and ethical way possible. If you would like to speak with us about a shipment involving a top priority load, please contact us immediately at

How is the largest cargo aircraft in the world used?

Imagining the largest cargo aircraft in the world almost seems impossible. Even the regular iterations of these planes seem unimaginably huge, but it’s the Antonov An-225 that truly shatters expectations beyond comprehension. There’s only one that’s fully operational in the world, which should show how special it really is!

Moreover, it’s not only the worlds largest cargo aircraft, but it’s also the world’s largest aeroplane; full stop! With importance and capabilities as great as these, it must be used for some highly extraordinary tasks. But how is it used?

Well, let’s explore this line of enquiry further below.

Cargo transportation

As previously mentioned, the Antonov AN-225 is principally a cargo plane. This means it transports goods from point A to point B. However, because of its size and scale, the An-225 carries loads that other aeroplanes simply aren’t built to carry. After all, air travel is extremely sensitive to things like weight – but the AN-225 can carry an impressive 250 tons worth of weight.

Interestingly, charter company Chapman Freeborn recorded and coordinated the first ever use of the AN-225; a cargo transportation from Switzerland to Bahrain. Obviously, because of the special nature of this cargo plane, it does not enjoy as much varied or common usage as it’s perhaps more regular counterparts, who’re experiencing a greater boom in activity in recent years. It’s typically only brought out under special circumstances; i.e. a huge cargo to be transported! 

What cargo?

Of course, the plane doesn’t just ferry around any mundane and generic cargo that most planes do! No, initially, the AN-225 was built for a very specific and exciting purpose; to transport parts and components of the Buran space shuttle for the Soviet Union! Yes, it was built to facilitate the space race at a faster rate with its six powerful turbofan engines and 32 wheels to evenly distribute its weight.

Obviously, this level of use makes the plane not only important in usage, but historically significant too. People are endlessly researching its capabilities, and wondering about the possibilities of a second plane, which ultimately never finished its development. Consequently, the An-225 is certainly one of a kind – at least for now!

A tourist attraction

It’s far from being as cheap and tacky as it sounds, but because of the exceptional make and performance of the plane, something that’s been as magnificently crafted as the AN-225 is going to draw a few keen eyes. Visitors have traveled far and wide to catch a glimpse of the cargo plane in action, and most efforts end without a sighting due to the AN-225’s more exclusive nature in its usage.

Still, people do endeavor to witness the planes majesty for themselves and has historically been revered from when it was on display at the Paris Air Show in 1989, just a year from its first flight the year prior. There’s not quite a fledging industry built around it today due to its rare usage, but nevertheless, it is used as a tourist attraction in select periods of inactivity or pre-flight preparations. All it takes is one video to circulate the internet, and media buzz follows up soon after! Few planes (except for perhaps something like Air Force One) can influence that level of reaction, so doing so is undoubtedly an impressive feat!

Ultimately, the AN-225 has enjoyed a wide variety of media coverage and cargo transportation usage. It’s a cargo plane unlike any other and unrivalled in its capabilities, meaning it will stand the test of time for decades to come.

Optimization Software Helping Air Cargo Carriers Address Challenges, Improve Performance, and Maximize Growth Opportunities

For air cargo carriers, there are many factors converging to introduce new challenges to their logistical planning and operations. Changing customer expectations, new partnership definitions, and emerging competitors are all conspiring and requiring air cargo carriers to adapt to these new market dynamics. Mastering the so-called “disruptors” will require optimized strategies and processes both of which gain a significant boost from leading-edge optimization solutions. Understanding the disruptors and how best to address them will be the key for today’s air cargo carriers’ continued growth and ability to successfully compete.

Challenges and Performance Improvement Goals

There is no question that despite positive growth projections by leading airline industry groups, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), air cargo carriers have hurdles to overcome. IATA’s prediction of a rise in cargo in 2018 came true with 62.5 million tons of cargo carried in 2018, a 4.5% increase over figures in 2017 leading to an 8.6% increase in cargo revenues at $59.2 billion. This growth boosts confidence, but air cargo carriers are not celebrating just yet. IATA’s forecasted rise in cargo carried to 62.5 million tons in 2018, a 4.5% increase over 2017 figures, and projected 8.6% increase in cargo revenues to $59.2 billion are confidence boosters. Still, air cargo carriers are not celebrating just yet. They realize that to achieve growth and profitability, they need to improve their value proposition by optimizing their processes and overall performance. This will require they get ahead of new challenges, while embracing new tools that facilitate better performance.

Among the key challenges air cargo carriers must address are:

-Those relating to the delivery of different cargo in accordance with the Service Level Agreement (SLA) for each cargo product, and recording time-stamps required for the audit trail;

-Optimal management of staff and equipment resources on the apron and in the cargo warehouse; and

-Maintaining optimum situational awareness and management by exception even in the most complex and confusing situations.

In addition to helping address these challenges, air cargo carriers also need solutions that will help them improve their performance of various tasks such as:

-Transporting of cargo between the aircraft and cargo center, as well as transports between different locations within the cargo center;

-On-time dolly availability at aircraft stands and holding areas;

-Preparation of dolly and trailer trains at aircraft and at outbound docks;

-Cargo build-up and breakdown in the warehouse;

-Loading/unloading of aircraft; and

-Loading/unloading of road feeder services.

The Disruptors


When Amazon announced plans to launch its own delivery service, more than one carrier took note and stock of the implications. While its plans are to start accumulating a fleet of branded trucks, what is to say that the Amazon logo won’t soon appear on its own fleet of air cargo carriers? And, will Alibaba be far behind?


When a group of Japanese businesses operating in global trade announced their pilot program to evaluate the application of blockchain technology to streamline and improve cross-border trade operations, there was interest by air transporters as well as those in other modes of transportation. This group is not alone in exploring ways to leverage this digital database that uses linked blocks secured by cryptography to improve transactions and logistics. UPS, for one, has expressed interest in utilizing blockchain technology in its operations.

Big Data

Big Data is also causing a stir within the air cargo industry. Carriers realize that by harnessing the power of real time data, along with more flexible management of workforce and other resources, they can increase their overall efficiency. This is particularly true when it comes to better determining the number of planes needed for cargo transport during specific periods; efficiently scaling up or down accordingly.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Like Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also getting a closer look by air cargo carriers. While some don’t expect AI to immediately impact the industry, there is a generally accepted viewpoint that it will ultimately help the carriers better forecast their facilities’ needs, improve cargo tracking, enhance revenue management, and optimize processes such as load planning, route planning, workforce management, and customer service. Among the top five air cargo carriers, at least two, FedEx and UPS, are known to be researching the implementation of AI.  Consolidation services are also being looked upon by air cargo carriers as a way to mitigate challenges faced by organizations with lean supply chains and/or those that need to provide a Just in Time (JIT) service even for the smaller quantities.

All of these “disruptors” have changed customer expectations; the operative words here are faster, more flexible, more transparent, and lower prices. These expectations lead us to optimization software. It is already helping air cargo carriers optimize their processes so that they can effectively address challenges, best leverage the new technologies like AI and position themselves for the changing marketplace.

Optimization Software Helping Carriers Retain Their Competitive Edge

Regardless of the challenges, air cargo carriers still have a distinct advantage over other modes of transport; specifically, they are faster and more reliable. Cargo IQ data indicates that air cargo shipments, on average, take 140 hours to go from shipper to the consignee. The reliability of air cargo carriers is another notable differentiator. That is, however, not to say that air cargo carriers don’t benefit from improved processes. Optimization software is intended to take their operations to a whole new level and enable them to retain their competitive edge.

There are advanced solutions that optimize a wide range of carrier processes, from ground handling and airport operations to turnaround management and aircraft maintenance. These solutions have demonstrated a direct impact on the carriers’ productivity, costs of operation, performance levels, communications, and resource management. They enable an air cargo carrier to achieve best practices and process transparency which help them perform with the consistent speed and reliability they tout over other modes of transportation. Let us look at how some of the challenges faced by air cargo carriers are being effectively addressed by applying optimization software.

A key operational challenge faced by air cargo carriers is that different cargo products have different Service Level Agreement (SLA) limits relating to when the cargo must be delivered to the aircraft. This requires carriers to establish and allocate the necessary resources (e.g., dolly trains) in an optimized manner and in adherence to the SLA. There also is another requirement for time-stamps to be recorded as proof and for subsequent auditing purposes. Optimization software addresses this challenge by automatically taking SLA limits into consideration when allocating tasks to resources. Additionally, each action is connected to a time-stamp so that a detailed recording of activities performed can be guaranteed.

Air cargo carriers are further challenged by today’s highly competitive industry and the demand for optimal management of staff and equipment. By applying state-of-the-art algorithms to automatically allocate tasks to staff and equipment in accordance with various parameters (e.g., availability, functional requirements, legal considerations, etc.), optimization software helps carriers achieve optimal asset management and remain competitive.

Given the many operational complexities and typical infrastructure limitations air cargo carriers must contend with, maintaining sharp situational awareness, even under the most stressful and/or chaotic conditions, is vital. Built-in optimizers in today’s most advanced software solutions alleviate much of the confusion enabling staff to fully focus on critical tasks, thereby facilitating management-by-exception.

Real Benefits Derived

Optimization software is delivering real benefits to carriers. INFORM’s GroundStar optimization software suite has made a significant difference on behalf of various cargo customers. For example, by applying the software to allocate and manage its employees, one customer is now able to turn around 350,000 express freight shipments, on average, per night. Having to cater to an estimated 65 cargo flights per night within a short window of just four hours, situational awareness and pro-active decision-making is crucial. The GroundStar solution elevates situational awareness to the highest level to facilitate optimum decision-making. On a typical day, approximately 250 loading staff and drivers are allocated in parallel for efficient workforce management. During the peak holiday season, the strength of the implemented solution is especially evident as more than 500,000 parcels must be efficiently handled per night.

INFORM’s GroundStar also is helping air cargo carriers meet the demands posed by the 5% annual increase in the number of express shipments. It is enabling these carriers to effectively manage expansion by supporting them with advanced automation and optimized and focused decision-making which, in turn, is helping them increase productivity without adding staff. Another example of how INFORM software is benefiting its cargo customers relates to their estimated 20% increase in dolly train utilization. Prior to their application of GroundStar, the carriers’ loading and cargo transport supervisors were not always able to utilize the full capacity of a tug and its dollies to meet SLAs and other timelines. After the implementation of GroundStar, the information regarding a tug’s status (i.e., whether a tug driver has enough time to wait for another unit load device (ULD) to be collected or to leave the stand with only three ULDs instead of four) is a strategic decision automatically handled by the INFORM software.

The Way Forward

The future for air cargo carriers and their continued process optimization will include further leverage of data – small and Big Data – to extract new insights and empower all staff levels from management to technicians. In turn, air cargo carriers will be able to gain even greater clarity to support their optimum decisions on matters ranging from dynamic disruption management and efficient aircraft turnaround, to aircraft maintenance, workforce management, and supply chain management.