Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

THE BEDEK Aviation Division of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) is about to sign a contract with KLM for the conversion of two Boeing 747-200 stretched upper deck (SUD) combis to full freighter configuration.

The Netherlands airline has signed a letter of intent, and negotiations now centre on the price. The programme also includes maintenance. A contract could be signed by early July.

The selection of IAI is significant, as until now only Boeing has discussed publicly the conversion of SUD aircraft to full cargo configuration. Unlike "short-hump" 747 models, the extended upper cabin floor of the SUD and -300/400 models requires modification if full height pallet positions are to be provided in the forward cabin. Boeing will modify the upper deck to reduce weight, and part of the floor will be removed.

Combi aircraft are already fitted with side cargo doors aft of the wing. The Bedek conversion will involve installation of a full-length cargo floor structure, a powered cargo-handling and restraint system and increased maximum zero fuel weight capability.

The two KLM aircraft were manufactured in 1975, and were later converted to SUD configuration by Boeing. The Dutch airline says that conversion of the first is scheduled to begin in mid-1997, with work on the second aircraft following in 1998.

Meanwhile, IAI has been awarded a $30 million contract by US parcels carrier UPS to convert two ex-Singapore Airlines 747-200s to cargo configuration. Work on the first aircraft is scheduled to begin in Israel at the end of August.

Source: Flight International