Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

Boeing has cancelled its McDonnell Douglas DC-10/ MD-11 freighter conversion contract with Gooodyear, Arizona-based Dimension Aviation, and will bring more work in-house to ensure that schedules are met.

Dimension, a division of Sabreliner, was contracted by Boeing to carry out 18 passenger-to-freighter conversions of DC-10s and MD-11s for FedEx through to 2000. The company has already undertaken six conversions since work began in early 1997. A further three aircraft (two DC-10-10s and one MD-11)are undergoing modifications and work will be completed. The remainder of the contract, now terminated, called for the conversion of a further nine aircraft.

Specific details of the reasons for the cancellation have not been revealed, but Holmes Lamoreux, Sabreliner's chairman and chief executive, says that the company "-would like to resolve its differences with Boeing and continue to serve FedEx's needs".

According to sources close to the project, Dimension had struggled continuously to meet the contract schedule and "-just weren't getting the job done".

Boeing is managing the programme to convert up to 60 DC-10-10s to MD-10 freighters for FedEx and is also overseeing the conversion of ex-American Airlines MD-11s for the US express packages carrier. Mobile Aerospace in Alabama and Aeronavali in Italy are already contracted to carry out some of the MD-10 freighter conversions, and Boeing is introducing a DC-10/ MD-11 conversion line at its newly formed Boeing Aerospace Support Center (BASC) located at the former Kelly US Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas.

The first DC-10-10 will arrive at BASC in September and more aircraft will go through the centre as the programme is built up. Meanwhile, Boeing will put the first DC-10 into the Boeing modification centre in Wichita, Kansas, in late August, for freighter conversion. More aircraft are expected to follow. Wichita has recently been used almost exclusively for 747 conversion work.

Source: Flight International