Gary's Combat Aircraft Reference Guide

FM 55-17:  463L Pallet


Pallet DimensionsWidth: 108 inches. Length: 88 inches. Height: 2 1/4 inches.
Pallet Usable DimensionsWidth: 104 inches. Length: 84 inches.
Pallet Weight, Empty290 lbs
Weight of Nets (side and top)65 lbs
Maximum Cargo Weight10,000 lbs
Desired Load Capacity7,500 lbs
Maximum Gross Weight10,355 lbs


The U.S. Air Force devised a cargo handling system, called the 463L System that reduces aircraft ground time, loads aircraft more fully, and eases the ground handling of cargo. Combining the 463L vehicles, pallets, rollers, and rails within the aircraft, can reduce ground time by as much as 75 percent.

One of the key items is the master pallet (463L pallet), which then turned sideways fits on the rollers of the C-130 and C-141 aircraft, and when turned lengthwise, fits on the bed of a truck. The pallet has a balsa wood core, and is covered with corrosion-resistant aluminum. It is framed on all sides by aluminum rails which have 22 tie-down rings attached with six rings on each of the long sides and five rings on each of the short sides. The rails also have indents (notches) which can accept rail locks when the pallet is put on an aircraft.

The dual-rail system is installed in all airlift or 463L-capable military aircraft. This system consists of rows of rollers that allow the palletized cargo to easily move into the aircraft. Many of these rollers are stowable to convert the cargo deck to a flat, clear loading surface for wheeled cargo. The side rails guide the pallets into the aircraft and provide lateral and vertical restraint. These rails are equipped with detent locks that hold the pallet securely in place once inside the aircraft. These locks also prevent the forward and aft movement of pallets during flight.