MAS engineering aims to move into ATR freighter conversions

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Malaysia Airlines Engineering and Maintenance (MAS E&M) is looking to move into ATR freighter conversions.

"There is demand for this service in the region as operators are looking at ATR freighter conversion for short-haul cargo demand," says MAS E&M senior general manager Roslan Ismail.

"With volatile fuel prices, short-haul cargo transportation is a growing business and the ATR aircraft provides an optimum yield for operations of this nature," he adds.

"ATR freighter conversions would be one of the services offered by MAS-Alenia Aerospace Engineering" and the other services will be airframe maintenance and modifications, says Roslan.

MAS-Alenia Aerospace Engineering is a joint-venture MRO company established by MAS E&M and Italy's Alenia. The business is based at Kuala Lumpur's Subang Airport, along with MAS E&M, and uses one of MAS E&M's hangars.

The joint-venture "is scheduled to start operations by the end of 2010 or early 2011 with checks commencing at the same time", says Roslan. Its launch customers are MAS' Firefly and MASwings, which both operate ATRs.

"We have been aggressively marketing the joint-venture and have secured letters of intent from a few operators around the region. Details will be made known in due time," he adds.

Malaysia's Berjaya Air has two ATR 72s and its general manager Lim Kian Hui has told ATI that it is likely to send its aircraft to MAS-Alenia Aerospace Engineering.

For the freighter conversion work, the joint-venture plans to use Alenia's supplemental type certificate, says Roslan, adding that "Alenia Aeronautica currently do all the freighter conversions around the world."

Today there are relatively few ATR freighters operating in Asia-Pacific but Australian express courier company Toll Priority Express operates ATR freighters and China's Okay Airways was said to be considering adding ATR 72 freighters.