Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa) Airbus is expanding its passenger-to-freighter conversion capabilities with the launch of an A310-300 programme and hopes to secure its first A300-600 customer later this month.

The company is also part of a consortium formed with Lufthansa Technik which is close to securing a German Ministry of Defence contract for the conversion of four German air force A310-300s to the multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT)configuration.

Meanwhile, Dasa Airbus and Aerospatiale Matra maintenance subsidiary Sogerma expect to announce in mid-July the formation of a joint Airbus aircraft conversion and overhaul programme company to be incorporated within EADS (European Aeronautic, Defence and Space).

The launch customer for the first two A310-300 conversions is a joint venture between US leasing companies Magellan Aircraft Services and Triton Aviation Services. Work will be performed by Dresden-based Dasa subsidiary Elbe Flugzeugwerke and includes the installation of a large side freight door, strengthened floor and cargo handling system. The two Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered aircraft were delivered new to Pan Am in 1990. They are to be handed over to the US leasing venture in February and April next year.

Elbe Flugzeugwerke director of sales and marketing Jürgen Habermann says the converted A310-300s will be able to carry a payload of 40t over a range of 6,100km (3,300nm), compared with 3,900km for the lighter -200. Habermann estimates the potential market for -300 conversions as 70 aircraft over the next 10 years.


Dasa has already converted 41 A310-200s on behalf of US package carrier FedEx, which is believed to want up to five more aircraft modified. Emery Worldwide has selected the A310-200 to replace ageing McDonnell Douglas DC-8-60/70s and Boeing 727-100/200s, say sources, and is trying to source some of the remaining 40 of the type available for conversion.

Dasa Airbus is the only supplier of civil A310 conversions, with rival BAE Systems Aviation Services saying it has "no plans" to enter this market. The UK company and Dasa compete for A300B4 conversion work and both plan to enter the emerging A300-600 segment.

Habermann says Dasa is discussing a two-aircraft A300-600 conversion contract with an unidentified customer which is trying to secure suitable examples of the type. BAE is understood to be competing for the contract.

Six A310-300s have been converted to the military multi-role transport configuration - four for the Canadian Air Force and two for the German air force. Work on another two modifications for Germany is to begin this year.

Source: Flight International