ST Engineering's A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion programme gained traction among operators and lessors looking for a viable P2F solution in the narrowbody category when its joint venture with Airbus, Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), secured a Letter of Intent (LOI) for an A321 converted freighter from BBAM, a global leader in aircraft lease management. The LOI was inked at Paris Airshow 2019.
The A321 passenger aircraft will be inducted for conversion into a 14-pallet cargo configuration in mid-2020, and is scheduled for redelivery in end 2020. The order by BBAM follows a launch contract that was announced in 2018.
The A321 P2F conversion programme was launched in 2015 together with the A320 P2F programme, and is the result of a collaboration between ST Engineering, Airbus and EFW. ST Engineering is responsible for the engineering development phase, up to obtaining the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and US Federal Aviation Administration-. Airbus contributes to the programme with Original Equipment Manufacturer data and certification support, while EFW leads the overall programme and marketing & sales.
Steve Zissis, President and CEO of BBAM, said, "As the first conversion solution to introduce a containerised lower deck in the segment of narrowbody freighters, the A321P2F has the potential to be the game changer for any hub and spoke operation, and to greatly help realise the projected global air cargo growth rate. For this reason, we made the decision to work with EFW to offer this conversion solution to our customers."
Dr Andreas Sperl, CEO of EFW, said: "We are pleased to welcome BBAM as one of our prestigious P2F customers. Given the track record we have in redelivering converted freighters with the support and resources from parent companies, ST Engineering and Airbus, we are confident in meeting BBAM's requirements for this first conversion, and we look forward to engaging them soon in the near future for follow-on conversion projects."
The A321P2F conversion programme is the first in its size category to offer containerised loading in both the main deck (up to 14 container positions) and lower deck (up to 10 container positions). With a generous payload-range capability that can carry up to 27.9 metric tons over 2,300 nautical miles, the A321P2F is the ideal narrowbody freighter aircraft for express domestic and regional operations. Prototype conversion of the A321P2F will be completed by end of this year, while the STC is expected to be obtained in early 2020.
Other P2F solutions marketed by ST Engineering which uses the Airbus platform include the A330 that comes with two variants – the A330-200 and the larger A330-300. The first A330-200 and A330-300 converted freighter have been redelivered to launch customer EgyptAir Cargo and DHL Express respectively, while more units are currently undergoing conversion.