Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), the joint venture between ST Aerospace and Airbus, announced that it has secured a launch contract from Vallair Solutions Sàrl (Vallair) for its A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion solution. The Germany-based aerospace company will convert 10 A321-200 passenger aircraft to a 14-pallet cargo configuration for Vallair. The first aircraft will be inducted in the last quarter of 2018, scheduled for redelivery by end of 2019.
Gregoire Lebigot, President and CEO of Vallair, commented, “My personal history with the A321 goes way back to the start of my career with Air France when it first introduced this aircraft in its fleet. At Vallair, through years of trading and supporting the A320 family, we have built a solid technical competence on this aircraft type. 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 in general – in particular driven by express services and e-commerce. 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. ”
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 programme co-developed with Airbus – move up a gear with this important order from Vallair. This milestone affirms our view, coupled with the positive feedback from the market, that the A321P2F is the only viable successor to the 757 freighter over the coming years.”
Dr Andreas Sperl, CEO of EFW said, “We are pleased to have Vallair as our 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 and its global network of maintenance facilities, 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.”
Mr Lim Serh Ghee, President of ST Aerospace said, “As the e-commerce and express market continue to grow, our investments in new freighter conversion programs will allow us to seize the opportunities created by the uptick in freighter demand. While offering a strong proposition with its unique container position in the lower deck, the A321P2F will also complement our other freighter solutions such as the mid-sized A330P2F program, to provide customers with a range of options to select from in support of their diverse operational needs.”
The A321 & A320 P2F conversion programs, launched in 2015, are the result of a collaboration between ST Aerospace, Airbus and EFW. ST Aerospace is responsible for the engineering development phase, up to the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Airbus contributes to the program with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) data and certification support, while EFW leads the overall program and marketing & sales.
The A321P2F conversion program is the first in its size category to offer containerized 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 narrow-body freighter aircraft for express domestic and regional operations.
Other P2F solutions that ST Aerospace and EFW have in their family of Airbus freighters include the A330 which has two variants – the A330-200P2F and the larger A330-300P2F. EFW redelivered the first A330-300 freighter in December 2017 following the successful completion of test flights in October and awarding of the Supplemental Type Certificate by the European Aviation Safety Agency in November.