Bedek has ridden out crises and consolidation in the MRO sector, to remain one of the few specialist freighter conversion houses

The fact that the world's airlines cannot get their hands on enough cargo aircraft ought to be good news for Bedek. The Israel Aerospace Industries' subsidiary is one of only a few independent passenger-to-freighter conversion houses, delivering more than 140 aircraft over the years. The trouble is, says Bedek general manager Dany Kleiman, the buoyant passenger market means there is a "shortage of feedstock" of the types Bedek specialises in - the Boeing 737-300, 767-200 and 747-400. "There is not a single 767 on the market and we won't see much this year. We have customers, but not aircraft," says Kleiman, who does not expect matters to improve until next year when deliveries of Airbus A380s and Boeing 787s will release some 747s and 767s onto the aftermarket.

Instead, Bedek will focus this year on its other activities: airframe maintenance and engine and component overhaul. It handles more than 560 engines and 40,000 components annually. Its customer base stretches to Australia, China, Latin America and Africa.

However, cargo conversions remain core. The company has two "development programmes": a 737-400 and a 767-300. It is keen to launch its first Airbus programme with the A340, but Kleiman says that will not happen for "several years" because Bedek must gain expertise in Airbus heavy maintenance first.

The company, which maintains the Israeli defence force's Lockheed Martin C-130s, is also looking at introducing a 767 military tanker programme, with a launch order "very close", says Kleiman. "There is a market out there of armed forces that cannot afford a new tanker. We can utilise our existing capability to create a multi-role aircraft," he says.

Bedek, which has 3,300 employees and revenues of $700 million, is expanding its footprint. It acquired its first overseas subsidiary, heavy maintenance provider Empire Aerocentre in New York State, three years ago. Two hangars, capable of handling 747s, are in the final stages of construction at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International airport. "We are one of a few independents who have survived," says Kleiman. "Our goal is to be one of the leading conversion houses worldwide."


Source: Flight International