Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Bedek group has secured a launch customer for its Boeing 777 freighter conversion line.

Bedek group general manager Yosi Melamed confirms that the company has reached an agreement with a first customer, but declines to identify it yet. "The contract is expected to be signed by mid-year," he adds.

Melamed says Bedek is currently completing the technical data bases needed for the conversion activity. "We have used an old 777 that we have purchased some years ago to perform all the needed work that will be the basis for the conversion from passenger to cargo configuration," he says.

According to Melamed, the first converted example of the twinjet will be handed over to its operator three years after the contract is signed.

Currently, the main conversion line at Bedek's facilities is for the 767.

"Last year we supplied a double-digit number of converted 767s, and all the slots for this year are full – also with a double-digit number," Melamed says.