AEI ramps up 727 conversions
Aeronautical Engineers (AEI) is converting a B727-200 passenger aircraft to a 12-pallet freighter configuration for an undisclosed customer. The company also is carrying out heavy maintenance on the aircraft at its conversion center in Miami, Florida.
Robert Convey, vice president of sales and marketing for AEI, expects to convert up to three 727s this year. “The B727-200SF freighter continues to attract attention from operators around the world who are looking for a proven workhorse,” he said.
The 12-pallet configuration was first developed by AEI and has been the backbone of the freight industry for more than 15 years, with 223 conversions completed to date. AEI has also been responsible for B737-200SF, B737-300SF, B737-400SF and MD-80SF conversions, and the company is currently converting a 737-300 for another undisclosed customer. Its addition of a ninth full ULD position allows customers to maximize the interior volume of the -300.
The -300s and -400s recently won approval from the Interstate Aviation Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the first Western passenger to freighter conversions to do so, allowing lessors and CIS airlines to import and operate them.
“The approval of AEI's 737 conversion products will provide CIS operators with an economical replacement for the 100-plus AN12 freighters currently in service,” Convey said. “Based upon our analysis, the CIS countries will surpass China in the number of registered 737 classic freighters by 2013. CIS demand will be driven by the need for replacement of existing freighters rather than the organic growth currently being experienced in China.”
Omega Worldwide, retained by AEI as a special adviser, was instrumental in obtaining CIS approval. Felix Minevich, president of Omega Worldwide, said: “Certification of the -300 and -400 freighters will open up a huge opportunity for cargo operators in Russia and the CIS countries. The demand for these types of freighter aircraft is enormous, and we expect to immediately see conversion orders.”