ST Engineering’s aerospace unit will more than double the number of Airbus A321 passenger-to-freighter (A321P2F) conversions annually, amid a surge in demand in the freight market during the coronavirus outbreak.
The company confirms that it is planning to increase conversion capability from nine a year to 25 a year by 2023.
This will be done by setting up A321P2F capabilities at its existing airframe MRO facilities in the USA and China. A321P2F conversions are currently done in Singapore and at its EFW joint venture facility in Germany.
ST Engineering tells FlightGlobal that its Guangzhou unit — ST Engineering Aerospace Guangzhou Aviation Services — as well as its Mobile unit - VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering - will be equipped to handle A321P2F operations.
In February, European authorities certified the A321P2F conversion, following the maiden flight of the first converted aircraft in January.
Lease management firm BBAM also signed a general terms agreement at the end of last year for “several” A321P2F conversions, states EFW. Its first aircraft was inducted in January for modification in Singapore and conversion of a second will start in March.
ST Engineering leasing venture Keystone Holdings has also reached a letter of intent with Qantas for conversion and lease of an A321P2F for delivery at the end of 2021.
The A321P2F offers up to 14 container positions on the main deck and 10 on the lower deck. The aircraft has “a payload-range capability to fly over 2,300nm [4,260km], carrying up to 27.9t”, states EFW chief executive Andreas Sperl.
Updated after clarification from ST Engineering that the Mobile unit, and not the San Antonio unit, will be equipped for P2F conversions.