Tel Aviv. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has begun the structural modification phase in the conversion of the first Boeing 777-300ERSF, in partnership with GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). The beginning of the conversion marks the end of the development process and the start of the structural and systems modification phase. The conversion process will take approximately 130 days, at the end of which the passenger aircraft will be turned into a freighter aircraft.
IAI has vast experience in the conversion of passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft. The company has regional conversion centres in different countries and plans to open new ones to cut the time of the conversion. This is based on a forecast for a dramatic increase in the demand of cargo aircraft.
The development process of the 777 conversion is complicated and highlights IAI engineers’ extensive experience in aviation, with their envisioned goal of creating a cargo conversion aircraft that will have the high quality and capabilities providing clients with the optimal solution. The passenger-to-freighter conversion includes changing the structure, which involves installing a new cargo door, replacing and strengthening the aircraft floor, installing reinforcements near the cargo opening, and modifying electrical systems to enable safe and convenient operation. In addition, the process will include receiving certification for the converted aircraft by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), among others.
Executive VP of the Aviation Group at IAI Yossi Melamed said: “Two years ago, we took our first steps on the courageous journey of the cooperation agreement to convert the B777-300ERSF aircraft. Over the course of these past two years, we have invested thousands of hours coupled with engineering and logistical efforts, in order to reach this moment in accordance with the original schedule. Today, we are beginning the structural modification phase of the conversion. The demand for converting the B777 aircraft is high, and I expect that the open spots for conversions will be quickly filled. Since IAI does not have wide competition in the field of passenger to freight conversions, we expect to receive over 50 aircraft that will undergo conversion. I would like to thank GECAS for believing in IAI’s abilities and vision, and to our suppliers for the support and assistance during this process.”
Over the past few years, there has been an increased demand for cargo jets due to a rise in e-commerce, which has peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically for the B767 model. As of today, all the slots for converting the B767 are filled until 2022. IAI is the leading conversion centre for cargo jets, and among its customers are market leaders including as Amazon, DHL, UPS and others.
SVP & Manager at GECAS Cargo Rich Greener said: “This milestone represents GECAS’s foresight and dedication to the air cargo market. This is a very well thought out and credible program combining GECAS’s and IAI’s experience in developing a very efficient freighter to meet the current and future air cargo requirements.”
IAI’s Aviation Group, the home of aviation in Israel, unites all aircraft activity piloted by humans: maintenance (MRO), business jets, converting passenger jets to cargo configuration, hangars and aviation arrays, aircraft upgrading and more. With knowledge and accumulated experience in aviation spanning almost 70 years of the company’s existence, excellent human capital and ground breaking technologies, the group is in line with the world’s leading aviation companies.
-The writer is an International Roving Correspondent of the publication.