The ST Aerospace-Airbus joint venture known as Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) has secured a launch contract from Vallair Solutions Sàrl (Vallair) for its A321 passenger-to-freighter conversion. Under the terms of the deal announced at the Singapore Airshow Wednesday, EFW will convert 10 A321-200 passenger jets to a 14-pallet cargo configuration for Vallair. Plans call for the first aircraft to go to EFW’s facility in Dresden, Germany in the last quarter of 2018 for conversion, then for redelivery to Vallair by end of 2019.
“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,” said Vallair CEO Gregoire Lebigot. “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 A321P2F, not only as a replacement of the B757 freighter, 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 A321P2F offers containerized loading in both the main deck (up to 14 container positions) and lower deck (up to 10 container positions). Citing a payload-range capability that allows for carriage of up to 27.9 metric tons over 2,300 nautical miles, EFW calls the A321P2F ideal for express domestic and regional operations.
Launched in 2015, the A321/A320 P2F conversion programs resulted from a collaboration between ST Aerospace, Airbus and EFW. ST Aerospace holds responsibility for the engineering development phase, up to obtaining the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Airbus contributes OEM data and certification support, while EFW leads the overall program including marketing and sales.
Other P2F programs on which ST Aerospace and EFW collaborate include the Airbus A330, which includes two variants—the A330-200P2F and the larger A330-300P2F. EFW redelivered the first A330-300 freighter last December, following completion of test flights in October and gaining an STC from EASA in November.