Picture from ST Aerospace

MIAMI — Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), which is the 55-45% joint venture partner between ST Aerospace and Airbus, has announced today that a launch contract from Vallair Solutions for its Airbus A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion solution.

The German Aerospace company will convert 10 A321-200 passenger aircraft to freighters, which can hold up to 14 pallets.

The first aircraft will be inducted in 4Q18 with redeliveries aimed to take place in Q419.

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“Today, we see a huge potential in the A321 P2F, not only as a replacement of the B757F but as a key tool for the cargo industry to achieve the projected growth rate of the air freight market,” said Gregoire Lebigot, President and CEO of Vallair.

“The A321 P2F will be the first aircraft to introduce a containerized lower deck to the market segment of narrow-body freighters: a significant game changer for any hub and spoke operation,” he said.

Christopher Buckley, Airbus Executive Vice President, Europe, Africa and Pacific said, “We are delighted to see the A320/A321 P2F project – the only A320 Family freighter conversion program co-developed with Airbus.”

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“This milestone affirms our view, coupled with the positive feedback from the market, that the A321P2F is the only viable successor to the 757 freighters over the coming years,” he said.

Andreas Sperl, CEO of EFW admitted being “pleased to have Vallair as the launch customer for our A321P2F solution, which we believe will play a lead role in the narrow body freighter segment.”

“Together with our parent company, ST Aerospace (…) we are confident we will achieve the high standards of service we have demonstrated over the years on all of our other conversion programs, and deliver to Vallair its A321P2F aircraft, on time and budget, to their full satisfaction,” he said

EFW, Airbus, and ST have been working on this program since 2015. ST Aerospace is responsible for the engineering development phase of the program, which will require STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) approval from EASA and the FAA respectively.

Airbus’ contribution to the program consists of the Original Equipment Manufacturer data and certification support aspect while EFW will lead the overall program, which gives them responsibility for marketing and sales.

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The program in itself will offer containerized loading in both decks, with 14 container positions in the main deck and 10 in the lower deck.

The aircraft will be able to carry over 27.9 metric tons of cargo and will have a distance of 2,300 nautical miles.

ST and EFW have had previous experience in the P2F programmes. For example, the A330-200P2F and the A330-300P2F have also been in their portfolio, with the -300P2F program being the more recent after redeliveries began in December 2017 following the successful completion of test flights in October 2017 and the awarding of the STC by EASA in November the same year.