Setting Standards for ATA Custom Cases
The Air Transport Association dates back to 1936 with 14 original airline carrier members. ATA cases first acquired their moniker in 1960, when the Air Transport Association established a set of specifications designed to ensure the cases could withstand high-impact airline travel. If a shipper conformed to these specifications, it was possible for a case to be "ATA Certified." Since then, the industry and it's association have changed. Now known as A4A or Airlines for America, explicit certification is no longer offered. However, it is possible to design custom ATA cases within the ATA 300 Compliance rules, (ATA Spec 300) and these rules can still be relied upon as the "gold standard" for shipping by air.
The first rule of ATA Specification 300, Compliant Cases, is they must be able to safely endure a minimum of 100 trips. Other important components include:
- Walls - composed of minimum ACX Grade cross, multi-layered plywood of 1/4", 3/8" or 1/2" thickness in combination with either ABS hair-cell texture plastic laminant or pebble finished, flat tone, and aluminum extrusion fittings.
- Exterior and Interior Case Dimensions - in accordance with detailed blueprints or plans
- Aluminum Extrusion Fittings - 6063 alloy with rating of T-5 and strength rating of 42 kips per sq. in.
- Steel Knuckle Ball Corners - attached permanently by 6 machine driven steel rivets; stacking ball corners
- Steel Piano-Type Hinging - to be used for hinged-lid designs; riveting to bond upper/lower case halves at every 3 inches across entire case width.
There are many ways to test the endurance of an ATA case. A case should be able to withstand drop testing, water spraying, vibration, and shock testing. Since federal agency compliance certification no longer exists, the only sure way to test your case, is for a reputable, independent lab to measure its performance against your specifications. Some airlines recommend package testing and may be able to suggest resources for having it done. Larson Packaging Company will provide testing upon request, but we also have a wealth of experience and proven designs that are well-known for their durability and reliability.
ATA cases provide a great solution for anyone that plans to reuse their packaging more than a few times. They are versatile, can be customized to your exact requirements and can be counted on to protect your valuable content.