Airbus will not develop a nose-gear modification for passenger-to-freight conversion of the A330-200, but instead opt for a simple jacking tool to level the fuselage.

While passenger versions of the A330-200 sit slightly nose-down, the new freighter version needs a level fuselage to aid loading.

New-build A330-200 freighters - the first example of which is due to begin a flight-test campaign shortly - have a lower-mounted nose-gear assembly to overcome the problem, and the type has a distinctive 'bubble' housing to contain the gear when retracted.

But A330-200F chief engineer Matthias Ierovante says that this modification on a passenger-to-freight conversion would involve significant work, including replacement of much of the nose section.

"This is something we didn't want to do," he says. "We have a solution for the passenger-to-freighter which we think is acceptable for customers."

He says Airbus is proposing a piece of external ground-support equipment which would physically lift the aircraft, producing the same effect as the lowered gear in new-build freighters.

 © Airbus

The tool, he adds, would be mounted on an air cushion and use the jacking points for tyre changes. Airbus adds that the tool would need only a single person to operate it.

Airbus did not want customers for new aircraft to depend on a similar tool, says Ierovante, stating that the production A330-200F is designed to be "optimised for purpose".

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news