McDonnell Douglas (MDC) has chosen US and European sites to convert up to 60 ex-United Airlines and American Airlines DC-10-10s to phase 1 of the MD-10 freighter specification. The aircraft are destined for FedEx.

Phoenix, Arizona-based Dimension Aviation, a division of Sabreliner (previously SabreTech/ DynAir Tech), has been contracted to undertake at least 12 conversions, while Aeronavali, the Venice-based division of Italy's Alenia, has won a contract for 13 conversions, plus options on 30 worth up to $410 million.

Work will start this month at Dimension's site at Phoenix-Goodyear Municipal Airport, using MDC's own US Federal Aviation Administration repair-station licence, and its supplemental type certificates (STCs). Dimension is already converting ex-American Airlines MD-11s to freighters for FedEx under a separate contract, and has also modified Korean Air MD-11s.

Aeronavali, which MDC describes as the "European second-source location" for further DC-10 conversions, will begin work on the first of 13 DC-10-10s this year. The company has specialised in DC-8 and DC-10 freighter conversions, using the MDC STCs.

The MD-10 modifications are being undertaken in two phases, with the first involving the basic freighter conversion, and the second the installation of a two-crew "glass" cockpit. The freighter-conversion phase is expected to cost some $7.6 million per aircraft and to require 80-120 days downtime.

It involves installation of a 3.5 x 2.6m main-deck cargo door and structural strengthening to raise maximum take-off weight to just over 202t. MDC says that the first three DC-10-10s will be converted to freighters this year, with deliveries continuing into 2000.

No contract has yet been awarded for the second phase, which involves the replacement of the three-crew cockpit with the Honeywell-developed two-crew Advanced Common Flightdeck. MDC will be responsible for MD-10 engineering, systems integration, programme management, flight-test and certification.

Source: Flight International