Since the advent of jet freighter aircraft in the 1960s, a great deal of attention has been placed on the future of air freight and particularly on the aircraft that will carry it. Studies for the “ultimate” optimized air freighter have been many and varied. Concepts have generally been market oriented, aircraft oriented, or ground systems oriented. The base for these studies has been so broad that a set of requirements for a new generation of freighter aircraft and supporting ground systems has not been finalized, and the development funds therefore have not been allocated.
This paper discusses some of the possible aircraft and ground systems concepts that might satisfy the future market, the parametric and specific studies that led to these concepts, and the economic constraints that will have to be overcome if the true market potential of air freight is ever to be realized.