MIAMI — BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is considering the launch of a passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion program for the Avro RJ jetliner.

The last year, the airframer assessed the feasibility of the P2F program, creating OEM-designed specification for the freighter kit, which is now being offered to the market. BAE selected the RJ100 as the main variant for conversion, as it is now starting to be retired from passenger service.

BAE intends to build on the in-service success of the BAE 146QT (Quiet Trader) freighter of which around 30 aircraft were built and converted new off the production line in the mid-late 1980s.

The eventual launch of the program would allow BAE to offer an economically-feasible solution for cargo carriers in emerging markets, as well as filling the existing gap between the freight capacity of current large turboprops and larger jets such as the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320.

BAE Systems will rely on a MRO partner to carry out the conversion, which is estimated to take up to three months. According to the airframer, the converted aircraft cost would range between US$ 3.2 and $4.3 million, and if launched, the availability of the conversion kits would be from the end of 2017.