Bedek sees promising future in B767 conversions

With the air cargo industry clearly emerging from the downturn of 2009, carriers are once again turning to focus on passenger-to-freighter conversions, which has made conversion slots at IAI Bedek Aviation Group hard to come by. By Donald Urquhart.

Bedek, part of the Israel Aerospace Industries group, has been active in the conversion market with certification for Boeing passenger-tofreighter conversions on B737-300/400, B767-200/300 and B747-400 aircraft for a number of years, but last year was certainly a tough one concedes Jacob Netz, director Analysis & Strategy, Freighter Conversions at IAI Bedek Aviation Group.

“The crisis is global and we suffer as the others. We had almost no conversions of B737 and B747 during the crisis, and some customers, with signed contracts, requested, to postpone the conversions,” he said. But lucky for Bedek, they are also an MRO provider which meant they could pick up the slack in conversions by increasing maintenance activity. “This is how we passed the crisis period,” Netz says.

“These days, we can definitely see the change; we get quite a number of inquiries from customers interested in conversions. One of the problems that characterise the air cargo sector is short-term planning. Some customers want to submit the plane immediately for conversion and the problem is to find an available slot.” In fact, all of Bedek’s conversion slots for 2010 and for the first quarter of 2011 are sold out.

For its B737-300BDSF (Bedek Special Freighter) Bedek has delivered 38 with five firm orders and an overall market potential for the period 2003-2018 conservatively estimated at 250 aircraft. The B737-300 conversion programme was launched in 2001. The B737-400 BDSF programme was derived from its successful B737-300 programme and so far five aircraft have been delivered with another four firm orders. Among Bedek’s B737 customers are: GECAS, TNT, Bluebird Cargo, Kitty Hawk Aircargo, China Postal Airlines, Qantas and SAA Cargo.