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UPS Placed An Industry-first Order For 1,821 Fire-resistant Shipping Containers. The Unit Load Devices (ULDs) Will Enhance Safety On Board The Company's Global Fleet Of Cargo Aircraft. (Photo: Business Wire)

Research became reality today when UPS (NYSE:UPS) placed an industry-first order for 1,821 fire-resistant shipping containers. The implementation of these unit load devices (ULDs) represents a milestone in aviation history, offering unprecedented protection from intense fires. Delivery of the new containers will begin this September and is expected to be complete by early 2014.

UPS placed an industry-first order for 1,821 fire-resistant shipping containers. The unit load devic ...

UPS placed an industry-first order for 1,821 fire-resistant shipping containers. The unit load devices (ULDs) will enhance safety on board the company's global fleet of cargo aircraft. (Photo: Business Wire)

“These containers are a game changer, both for UPS and the industry as a whole,” said UPS Chief Operating Officer David Abney. “They represent a quantum leap forward in safety, an area where UPS places the highest emphasis.”

“Fire onboard an aircraft has long been a top concern for the National Transportation Safety Board,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “We commend UPS for implementing this real-world solution that addresses our recommendations.”

The containers are built with a revolutionary new panel material, MACROLite, a fiber-reinforced plastic composite similar to the material used in ballistic body armor. Burn testing conducted by UPS and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and observed by the NTSB, has shown that a ULD with MACROLite panels can contain a fire with a peak temperature of 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit for more than four hours. That time frame would give a flight crew ample time to land safely in the event of an in-flight fire.

“We have tested these containers in the laboratory and in live operations. They will enhance safety and increase durability, and they are lighter, which will reduce fuel burn and supports our ongoing sustainability efforts,” said UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols.

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