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What is this orange container for? It reads

Flight kit wheel. Do not remove.

What's a "flight kit wheel"?

Orange container on ramp

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    $\begingroup$ @mins You should go ahead and make that an answer $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Oct 24 '15 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ Corsair is a charter airline so presumably they keep spares aboard, as they might not have a facility at their destination. $\endgroup$ – egid Oct 24 '15 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ @egid For the precision, Corsair is absolutely not a charter airline. It's a regular airline with daily lines to France's oversea territories. But I don't think that they have big facilities on our islands so you might be right there. $\endgroup$ – Quentin H Oct 25 '15 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ @QuentinHayot - they definitely did run charters - and not knowing how old the photo is, I'd say it's still a decent enough guess... :) $\endgroup$ – egid Oct 25 '15 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ The most important question, and the one we've all overlooked for 2 years - "Why have they removed it from the plane???" ;) $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Nov 2 '17 at 12:05
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Corsair is a small airline, with a limited number of aircraft, serving airports in remote islands from Paris. For their economical survival their aircraft must keep a high operational ratio. However:

  • The airline may not have a maintenance facility at destination, either a owned facility or an agreement for maintenance services from another company locally based.

  • The facility may not have a satisfactory stock of spare parts for their aircraft or the required tools, and no possibility to obtain them in a very short time, even from their main base.

A common solution is to bring parts aboard, in particular MEL components that are the most likely to fail. It's a balance between the cost to carry the container and the cost of extra wait time (better said by FreeMan in a comment below: The weight penalty is much lower than the wait penalty.)

This container contains a spare wheel and the related tooling.

Flight kit

These containers marked "Flight kit", "Fly away kit" (FAK), "Do not unload", "Do not offload", etc, contain components or tools intended to remain on board and be used at the next stopover in case of necessity.

Linde forklift loading a flight kit
Loading a flight kit, source Linde

Flight kit, Air France, A380
Flight kit, Air France (translates to "Fly away kit, do not unload"). Photo by A380spotter at Flickr

Often these containers contain spare wheel kits.

enter image description here
Flight kit wheels in cargo hold (Malawi elections inspection). Source

Spare parts are commonly seen aboard aircraft serving remote isolated locations with light traffic, where maintenance may be difficult at the moment.

Corsair, a small airline deserving remote (dream) locations

And actually Corsair is a small French airline based at Paris-Orly (LFPO), which has a taste of holidays. Their 5 aircraft take people from Paris to beautiful beaches on islands where airports don't have large maintenance facilities. (For a long time Corsair used Boeing 747 Classic, with inspirational tail numbers, meaning also less common spare parts.)

In such a small airline, when an aircraft is grounded the schedule of the others is indeed disrupted, the shorter, the better.

Rather than having the most used spare parts at multiple stopovers, or having to wait for one shipped from Orly (or another stopover: Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre, La Réunion), a good tradeoff is to have them aboard.

Secured content

Parts in the container are secured to prevent them from moving.

enter image description here
AKN FSK container for Air France (Source)

enter image description here (source)


See also: Do any aircraft carry spare parts for making repairs?

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    $\begingroup$ Great answer! I didn't know that airliners were actually flying with a spare wheel (or whatever other spare part), due to the weight penalty. $\endgroup$ – Quentin H Oct 25 '15 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ @QuentinHayot The weight penalty is much lower than the wait penalty, therefore, it makes sense to have parts on board. It would be interesting to find out if Corsair flies mechanics aboard every time, or if they have/contract them locally when needed. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Oct 26 '15 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ Wow I love the term "wait penalty" $\endgroup$ – vasin1987 Mar 11 '16 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ I was working on a project 15 years ago where we were negotiating with an airline to use one of their B737s to obtain an STC. They quoted the cost (in 2002) to pull the aircraft out of service at $70k/day. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Nov 2 '17 at 12:52

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