Plane leasing firm BBAM Restricted Partnership on Monday positioned the biggest order thus far for the brand new Airbus A321 transformed freighter, which is attracting rising consideration from categorical supply corporations and airways supporting parcel networks which might be experiencing fast progress in e-commerce enterprise.
The San Francisco-based leasing providers supplier mentioned it signed a contract with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), a three way partnership between authentic tools producer Airbus and Singapore’s ST Engineering, to transform 18 of the narrowbody passenger jets into full freighters. The deal primarily locks up a full manufacturing line for BBAM via 2025 and comes with the choice so as to add new conversion slots yearly beginning in 2026.
BBAM, which manages leases for traders that personal plane, has already transformed and redelivered two A321 transformed freighters to Titan Airways, a U.Ok. constitution airline, for a complete of 20 orders to date.
BBAM spokesman Matt Dallas mentioned two of the reconfigured freighters will probably be leased to Lufthansa Cargo. The Lufthansa cargo subsidiary final month said it plans to add two A321s to its all-cargo fleet and outsource the flying to regional passenger provider Lufthansa Cityline, a sister firm, however didn’t disclose the place it was buying the plane. Lufthansa expects the freighters to enter service in early 2022.
The feedstock for conversions will come from BBAM’s portfolio, which totals greater than 500 plane.
Demand for all-cargo plane has by no means been extra intense, with international cargo capability down greater than 12% from pre-pandemic ranges and delivery volumes at near-record ranges. Practically each airworthy freighter has been put to make use of prior to now 18 months, and extra airlift will probably be gradual to materialize as a result of modifying plane takes a number of months every and conversion outlets are booked up. Final week, Air Transport Companies Group (NASDAQ: ATSG) mentioned it placed deposits with engineering outfits to secure 67 conversion slots over the following 3 1/2 years for 3 completely different plane varieties.
BBAM is taking a diversified strategy to funding in transformed narrowbody freighters, with 31 orders and commitments to date with Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) for transformed 737-800 freighters. In July, the leasing firm added a dozen aircraft to its original order.
“Our dedication to the P2F program demonstrates our confidence within the capacity of EFW and ST Engineering to ship long-term worth enhancement for the A320s and A321s in our fleet,” mentioned BBAM President and CEO Steve Zissis in an announcement. “We’ve got dedicated to the A320/A321P2F program properly into the long run — past 2026 — as a result of we see it as a greener and extremely progressive answer for our airline clients, and a very good option to drive worth for our traders.”
EFW mentioned most of the conversions for BBAM will probably be carried out at ST Engineering’s airframe facility within the U.S. The corporate beforehand mentioned that ST Engineering will probably be including an A321 conversion line at its VT Cell Aerospace facility in Cell, Alabama.
EFW was the primary out of the blocks to introduce a design for modifying the A321 to hold cargo containers and pallets on the primary deck. The primary airplane was delivered final October to Qantas to assist Australia Put up. Previous to the brand new BBAM order, EFW had logged about 17 orders from leasing corporations for the A321 passenger-to-freighter conversion.
321 Precision Conversions, a U.S. three way partnership between Portland, Oregon-based Precision Plane Options and ATSG, earlier this 12 months delivered its first A321 transformed freighter to a European buyer and not too long ago started retrofitting plane based mostly on current design approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.
One other competitor, Nanchang, China-based Sine Draco Aviation Growth Ltd., can also be getting ready its first prototype of the A321 in all-cargo configuration.
Turning used planes into freighters is a fancy enterprise that requires specialised restore outlets to make structural modifications, together with chopping a big opening within the fuselage for a cargo door, stripping out seats, reinforcing the ground to assist heavy masses, putting in a inflexible barrier to guard the cockpit from shifting freight and masking home windows.
Though Boeing has a three- to four-year head begin within the midsize freighter class for conversions, aviation consultants say the A321 is more likely to show a worthy competitor due to a design that permits containers — not simply breakbulk cargo — to be carried within the decrease deck. The massive payload, plus gas effectivity and long-range, present operators a excessive diploma of operational flexibility. The A321 freighter has a payload of about 61,800 kilos and a variety of greater than 2,300 nautical miles.
It additionally is taken into account a wonderful substitute candidate for ageing Boeing 757 transformed freighters.