Precision Conversions has received US FAA approval to perform 15 cargo modifications for Boeing 757-200s with winglets, marking the first time it has been allowed to carry out the work on winglet-equipped 757s.
The Portland-based conversion specialist has completed the first 757 modification for owner Cargo Aircraft Management, a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group. Air Transport International will operate the aircraft later this year. Precision Conversions says that it has a commitment for one further aircraft modification with CAM.
Precision Conversions began the engineering and certification process for the winglet approval at the end of 2010, says vice-president of marketing and sales Brian McCarthy. The process included gathering substantial data to analyse how a cargo conversion would affect a winglet, and involved windtunnel modelling and other tests.
"It took an enormous amount of knowledge and a very contemporary data set to demonstrate this compatibility," says McCarthy.
The conversion of winglet-bearing 757-200s into freighters does not require any modifications to the aircraft beyond fitting standard cargo capabilities.
But McCarthy characterises the FAA approval as an amendment that will allow for more than 300 757s with winglets to be turned into freighters, which would not have been otherwise possible.
"We do think that there will be an abundance of these airplanes over the next few years," says McCarthy, noting that the 757 market will start to reach an attractive price point for cargo carriers once legacy operators such as United Airlines and American Airlines begin to withdraw more of their passenger 757s.
"These big legacy carriers are releasing airplanes at what we think is an optimum time for freighter consideration," says McCarthy.
Precision Conversions has applied for FAA certification for 757-200 combi conversions, which it expects to receive in December.