How Airlines Calculate Passenger Luggage Weight

Published: 02nd September 2008
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Air travel has become widespread throughout the United States and throughout the world. Commercial aviation carries millions of passengers on tens of thousands of aircraft. Generally, the weight of a specific passenger, or the weight of their luggage, is of little consequence in the operation of a commercial jet. Over a long period of time, airlines have developed statistical information as to the average weight of the passenger and luggage. This information is used to determine safe weight loads for the specific aircraft, fuel loading requirements for specific flights, and the amount of cargo that they may be able to load on any individual flight. Of course, significant safety margins have been built into these values

Large jets, with passenger capacities ranging from 60 to more than 400 passengers, carry the vast majority of commercial traffic. Recent increases in fuel costs have encouraged airlines to rely on the hub networks in order to reduce the number of flights. Many flights into the hubs are satisfied by smaller regional aircraft. Also, airlines are substituting the smaller aircraft as many routes as possible where they may replace larger, higher fuel consumption planes. These planes may have 20 to 45 seats.

Because airlines have reduced their routes, a new type of service called Air Taxis have become more popular. Their goal is to service less popular routes. They use much smaller aircraft to supply service on demand. Depending on the route and the company, there may be between 5 and 8 available passenger seats.

While statistical information may be satisfactory for large aircraft, it may not be the best solution for a smaller plane. The statistical model must offer a high level of certainty that the plane can safely carry the load, and that there is enough fuel for the flight, with the same high built in safety margins. If there are only five passengers, it is not reasonable to automatically assume that the total weight of these passengers will be near the statistical average weight. There is some significant degree of possibility that all five will be over the average weight. Therefore, it would only be safe to design the flight parameters based on this assumption.

In order to maximize the benefit of each individual flight, it would be very useful to know the correct weight of each passenger and their baggage. In the example noted, if the five passengers in fact were equal to a statistical average, it would be possible to carry more cargo, or to reduce the amount of fuel loaded, achieving better fuel economy.

Some of the Air Taxi services have begun to use electronic platform scales to accurately weigh the passengers and their luggage. The scales are designed to quickly determine a weight, and to send this weight into the custom computer application that is tracking the weight of all items going onto the plane. Luggage and cargo may also be weighed on this scale.

It is important for the platform of the scale to be large enough for any passenger to feel comfortable when standing on it. The Arlyn Scales 3200 series is ideal for this purpose, with a platform size of 20" x 27". In addition, the platform has a very low profile, being only 1 7/8" high. This makes it very easy for a passenger to step up onto the platform. With a capacity of 1000 lb, and a readability of 0.2 lb, all passengers will be accurately weighed. The capacity and platform size of the scale also makes it very useful for weighing cargo.

Each Air company uses their own proprietary software program for tracking the weights. The scales are provided with USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports to transmit the data into the computer system. Arlyn Scales also provides a Windows based software utility that reads the weight from the scale. It then can target any field in the users proprietary software. The data is automatically entered into these field, as it is transmitted from the scale. This allows the scale to be compatible with a wide range of user applications.

Because the scale may be used in many different types of locations, it is provided with both a power adaptor and a rechargeable battery pack. It may be used for up to a week on a single charge. Whenever the scale is subsequently plugged into a power outlet, it will both operate the scale and automatically recharge the battery pack.

Arlyn Scales' goal is to provide clients with superiority in equipment and service unrivaled in the scale industry. For almost 30 years Arlyn has manufactured top of the line industrial weighing equipment with an accent on quality, accuracy, advanced technology and durability. From Livestock, Alpaca and Llama Scales to Ultra Precision Scales with Super Sensitivity and Surface Acoustic Wave Technology and everything in between, Arlyn Scales has it all.

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