Bedek considers extending Airbus freighter conversion options

Tel Aviv
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Israel Aerospace Industries' Bedek freighter conversion subsidiary may extend its offerings to include Airbus A300s and A320s, with a decision on an A300 project to be made next year.

General manager Eliezer Hattem says a Bedek move into A320 conversions may come in co-operation with Airbus parent EADS and another, Russian, partner.

Bedek is one of the world's three leading conversion centres, and has been hit by recession. But, says Hattem, the company is anticipating steady grow in demand for its Boeing conversions, with 747 work coming back on stream after a complete cessation during the downturn.

One converted 747-400 was delivered recently to Asiana and work is under way on another 747-400 that belongs to a European carrier. Another 747-400 owned by the same airline is expected to arrive at Bedek's facilities before the end of the September.

Hattem says two more 747-400s, owned by an Asian airline, are expected in mid-December and in January 2011. But, he says: "This is a limited surge and we still do not see that it will continue."

However, 767 conversion work looks encouraging, he says: "We currently convert four to six 767s a year and this level will continue."

Hattem expects 737 work to continue at a similar rate throughout 2011, despite greater competition for that type. Most 737 conversions contracted to Bedek are performed in a Chinese centre that acts as a subcontractor.

Bedek subcontracting arrangements to convert 737s in South Africa and 767s in South America both closed because of the recession, but resumption remains possible, says Hattem.