A New Player in Cold Chain Air Freight Containers, Swiss Airtainer, Wins EASA Approval


Action enables the company to begin offering its unit-load device for shipments

RKN unit-load devices (ULDs) are the metal (usually) boxes loaded onto cargo jets for temperature-controlled shipping. The RKN specification is designed for containing pallet-size loads, and the ULDs are either passively cooled by a stored quantity of refrigerant (such as dry ice), or are “active” units with battery-powered, onboard refrigeration and heating to keep pharmaceuticals within a set temperature range, usually 2-8°C. 

Now, Swiss Airtainer, based in Yverdons-les-Bains, Switzerland, is entering the market with a new active design which has just received regulatory approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to use its units in air cargo. Among its novel features, the company notes, is a tare weight of 388 kg, which can lower transport cost by reduced fuel burn, and the inclusion of solar panels on its roof, so that the unit can be charging its batteries when it is on the tarmac awaiting loading. Real-time data monitoring is enabled by 16 onboard sensors and internet of things (IoT) communication capabilities. The unit’s software is said to meet ALCOA standards (a designation by FDA of data quality in pharma operations).

“We are extremely satisfied that our technology has passed the rigorous standards of EASA,” says Eduard Seligman, founder and CEO of Swiss Airtainer. “We are already in communication with leading pharmaceutical manufacturers, logistics providers and airlines;” and the company expects to begin pilot and commercial programs in the coming year.

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