Aeronautical Engineers (AEI) has received a supplemental type certificate (STC) from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its Boeing MD-80SF passenger-to-freighter conversion, allowing it to start modification work on its backlog of orders for the aircraft type.
The conversions specialist says it already has a backlog of 20 aircraft for conversions split between five operators, and foresees a market for more than 100 MD-80 converted freighters in the next decade.
AEI is targeting a 75-day turnaround for the first few aircraft conversions that come off the line. The STC covers the MD-81, -82, -83 and -88 models, which together comprise a fleet of more than 700 aircraft in the global fleet.
The converted MD-80 freighter made its first flight on 28 September. The modification includes cutting an 2.16m X 3.45m (85in X 136in) cargo door into the aircraft and installing a Class E main deck cargo compartment with an 2.06m ceiling.
Each of the 12 cargo positions measures 2.24 x 2.74m in a standard layout. The MD-83SF has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 72,575kg; the MD-82SF and MD-88SF models have a MTOW of 67,812kg.
AEI officially launched the MD-80SF passenger-to-freighter conversion programme in February 2010, giving an ex-American Airlines aircraft a new lease on life as a cargo prototype.