US-based B/E Aerospace has secured a supplemental type certificate (STC) from the US FAA allowing it to convert Airbus A300-600 passenger aircraft to freighters.

B/E says in a statement that the STC was awarded to its Flight Structures (FSI) unit. It says "the A300-600 STC marks a significant milestone in our passenger-to-freighter conversion business".

The company announced early in 2006 that its FSI unit had been selected by China Southern Airlines to convert its six A300-600s to freighters. The programme puts it into direct competition with EADS' freighter conversion unit EFW, which has already been performing such work on A300-600s for some time.

B/E says in its statement today that it expects the six-aircraft conversion programme for China Southern to have a value of around $45 million. It says China Southern's maintenance, repair and overhaul subsidiary, Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering, will carry out the touch labour and kit installation work.

But it remains unclear what China Southern will do with the aircraft. In July the airline put its A300-600s up for sale and said that as a result they would no longer be used as freighters as earlier planned.

A China Southern spokesman told ATI at the time that it had decided to sell the aircraft as it had opted against using them for regional freighter operations.

A planning and development department executive says from Guangzhou today that the aircraft are still being offered for sale but he declined to comment on the conversion deal with B/E.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news