The Bedek division of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is focusing on China as it prepares for an anticipated sharp increase in demand for freighter conversions.

"We will see signs of the new demand next year. By 2004 we hope to go back to our full conversion capacity of 16 aircraft a year", says David Arzi, IAI's vice-president, and general manager of the Bedek division.

Bedek, which is holding its second cargo conference in Beijing at the end of October, is developing conversion programmes for the 737 Classic (-300/400) and the 767. It also offers a conversion for the 747 Classic and is looking to launch one for the -400. This year it will convert 12 aircraft, and Arzi says that orders are already held by GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) for four Boeing 767-200 conversions for 2004, with options on another 11. Bedek also has orders for 20 737 conversions from several customers, including GECAS.

Bedek began marketing efforts in China three years ago and is expanding its operations in the region. It predicts the market will generate $50 million annually within two years. It has already converted two China Eastern Boeing MD-11s and two others were flown to Israel for D checks. Bedek also carries out engine overhauls for a number of Chinese carriers.

Source: Flight International