What is this orange container for? It reads

Flight kit wheel. Do not remove.

What's a "flight kit wheel"?

Orange container on ramp

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ 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, 2017 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan We all silently asked this one :) $\endgroup$
    – Quentin H
    Nov 3, 2017 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


Short answer

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. 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.)

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.

It's relatively common to see FAK for spare wheels. One of the reasons is when the crew executes a rejected take-off just prior to V1 speed on a large aircraft, brakes are subject to intense heating propagated to the wheels. Tires inflated with nitrogen at about 1,300 kPa (that's about 13 bars or 200 psi) could blow out beyond a certain temperature, causing damages/injuries. To prevent such explosion, wheels are fitted with fusible plugs melting to allow tires to deflate safely.

After such event, the plugs (and possibly the tire) have to be replaced. A common option is to change the whole wheel and perform inspection and repairs later. The kit contains the necessary tooling and parts for this replacement. This might take 30 minutes or so.

As FreeMan also mentions, sometimes the mechanic who is going to replace the wheel is onboard. That was the case (at the time the photo was shot) for Corsair for certain destinations where there is no permanent maintenance team at the stopover.

Corsair, a small airline serving remote 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 (Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre, La Réunion, Saint Martin, Palma ...)

For a long time Corsair used Boeing 747 Classic, 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.

Flight kit

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

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

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?

Corsair, formerly Corse Air, comes from Corse island (the birth place of Napoleon Bonaparte). Their business has known ups and downs several times, they are now part of Dubreuil Group. Corsair 747 had over time famous tail numbers: F-GSEA, F-GSEX, F-GSUN, F-GSKY, F-HLOV, etc.

F-GSEA landing at St Marteen
F-GSEA landing at Princess Juliana. Source: JetPhotos, photo by Rogier van der Velde

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 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, 2015 at 18:25
  • 17
    $\begingroup$ @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, 2015 at 14:12
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Wow I love the term "wait penalty" $\endgroup$
    – vasin1987
    Mar 11, 2016 at 11:31
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ 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, 2017 at 12:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Fair enough, thanks for the clarification! (I also envisioned the mechanic "following" the aircraft on a tether, like a towed banner, but I was pretty sure that wasn't it, either. :) $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Nov 10, 2020 at 16:48

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