BAE Systems Regional Aircraft is to offer a freighter conversion for its Jetstream 41 in conjunction with UK regional carrier Eastern Airways. The company says that the E-Class freight conversion will take around five weeks and the converted aircraft should be available by mid-2007.

Design work is being undertaken by BAE Regional Aircraft's engineering division at Prestwick and should be completed during the second quarter. Eastern Airways will perform the conversions at its Prestwick-based refurbishment and installation centre.

"We have had a lot of interest, despite not having aircraft available or a design," says BAE Regional Aircraft sales and marketing vice-president Steve Doughty.

The conversion to create the 3.5t payload freighter will require very little work. The rear 1.3m (4.3ft)-wide baggage door will double as a freight door, while the forward passenger door will be used for crew access. Taylor says the first conversion might be performed on an Eastern Airways aircraft. The conversion has not been developed with a specific customer in mind, and BAE declines to identify those which have expressed an interest.

Meanwhile, BAE is planning to perform BAe 146QT freighter conversions at an undisclosed Romanian facility, having secured the go-ahead to relaunch the programme. BAE has secured the rights to the conversion from Pemco, which originally carried out the work when the programme ran in the 1980s.

The scheme is costing BAE around $5-6 million, including the two initial -200 aircraft for the project, which will be taken from its lease portfolio. These will be delivered to the Romanian facility in the second quarter. The first conversion is expected to be available in mid-2008.

Source: Flight International