Airbus is seeing “serious interest” from cargo integrators such as FedEx Express for a higher volume package freighter based on the A330-300 airframe. It is evaluating whether to tackle this requirement with a new-build freighter or a “P2F” conversion of passenger aircraft.
“With the integrators there’s a lot of interest in the A330-300F – both new-build and P2F aircraft,” says Airbus freighter marketing manager Jonathan Lesieur.
“They have a requirement for higher volume – not necessarily higher payload – at lower densities, so they are looking seriously at the A330-300.”
While the smaller A330-200F with its higher payload and longer range could also find its way into the integrators’ fleets, Lesieur says it is more likely to have a niche role. “However, a niche in FedEx or UPS is still big numbers,” he points out.
Although the detailed specification for the proposed A330-300F is still being completed, Lesieur estimates that both the new-build and P2F version would have a payload in the 60-65t range, compared with 64-69t for the -200F. “The -300F will have just under 20% greater volume than the -200F,” he adds.
“We are looking at the business case to decide which we should launch first, the -300F or -300P2F,” says Lesieur.
The new-build version A330-300F is likely to have the modified landing gear and blister fairing of the -200F to ensure that the cargo bay is level during loading.
However, for the P2F version, Airbus is proposing a jacking system to raise the nose.