ST Aerospace and EADS EFW have agreed to partner with Airbus to develop a conversion passenger-to-freighter (P2F) program for the A330-300 and the A330-200. The first conversions are slated to take off in 2016, according to a statement by EADS EFW.
According to an Airbus press release, the larger -300, which can carry a high volume of low-density cargo, will be targeted at integrators and express carriers. The -200, the company said, is suited for long-rage flights carrying dense freight. ST Aerospace is taking the engineering lead on the A330P2F, which will be manufactured at EADS EFW’s facilities in Dresden.
“Aircraft conversion is one of the most complex modifications, which demands precision and engineering finesse,” ST Aerospace President Chang Cheow Teck said in a statement. “We are looking forward to leveraging our engineering design experience, to provide value added solutions to the aircraft operators.”
In August, EADS EFW’s Wolfgang Schmid spoke with Air Cargo World about the possibility of an A330 program, which had been talked about for some time. He said that there is an immediate feedstock of 800 A330 passenger aircraft in operation, with a backlog of more than 300 aircraft on order. “This means that we expect that a strong demand will be covered by a strong feedstock base for many years,” he said at the time, “although the decision regarding timing and choice of variants is not completely finished.”
Feedstock was becoming an issue with the company’s conversions of A300s, he said in August. “The A300-600R conversion program has been available in the market for 10 years now, and during that time, it has remained the prime solution in this freighter segment,” Schmid said. “There are still quite a few candidates in the market which are suitable for conversion, but adequate feedstock supply is expected to limit the conversion output from 2015.”
And more supply is definitely needed. According to Airbus, there will be a global demand for 2,700 additional freighters over the next 20 years. The company expects that 900 of these planes will be conversions.
“Alongside our highly efficient A330-200F factory-built freighter, Airbus has always been committed to extending its freighter portfolio,” Tom Enders, Airbus’ president and CEO, said in a statement. “The A330P2F is the perfect next step to building the Airbus freighter family.”