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  • Airbus Gives Up On A320 Pax-to-Freighter Conversion Plan
    Posted by Frank Jackman 7:39 PM on Jun 03, 2011

    The news Friday that Airbus and partners EADS EFW, Irkut and United Aircraft Corp. are scrapping their plans to convert A320 passenger aircraft into freighters hardly comes as a surprise. The agreement to launch the Airbus/EADS-Russian joint venture was finalized in October 2006, but it wasn't until 21 months later -- July 2008 -- that leasing company AerCap was named the launch customer with an order for 30 conversions. Back in 2008, the first aircraft was expected to be certified in 2011, which was was later than originally planned. My colleague, Robert Wall, reported this morning that work on the prototype aircraft was underway and that first flight was to be this year.
    In the end, it looks like the continued success of the A320 family doomed the conversion program. With demand for passenger aircraft high, feedstock for a conversion program is difficult to come by, particularly at price that makes the conversion economically feasible for an operator. A prime example of that is the Boeing 767-300ER. That aircraft long has been touted as a great aircraft for conversion given its range and potential payload a freighter. But relatively few of the type are available for conversion because passenger carriers are loathe to give them up while they're waiting for the 787 to come on line.
    I did a quick search of the Ascend database and found that currently there are 254 Airbus-made aircraft in service as freighters and another 41 in storage. All but five of these 295 aircraft are A300s or A310s. The other five are A330-200Fs and there are another 52 of those on order. By contrast, there are 952 Boeing-made aircraft currently in service as freighters, 197 in storage and 150 on order.

    Tags: tw99, om99, Airbus, A320

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