US air cargo company Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) still aims to receive type certification for its Airbus A321 converted freighter by 2019, says chief executive Joe Hete.
The Ohio-based company also anticipates substantial demand for the aircraft specifically because it has significantly more cargo volume capacity than Boeing 737 freighters.
Produced by ATSG in partnership with Oregon-based conversion company Precision Aircraft Solutions, the A321-200PCF should be available to customers in "the latter half of 2019", Hete says during an investor conference hosted by Stifel on 13 February.
Though Boeing freighters currently compose the bulk of the world's narrowbody freighter fleet, the A321 converted freighter will have 25% more cubic cargo capacity than the 737-800F, says Hete.
It will have capacity to carry 14 cargo containers, compared to the 737-800F's 11-container capability, he notes.
Carriers specifically need more cargo volume, rather than payload, due to heavy demand for shipments of relatively light e-commerce products, says Hete.
"The cubic capacity is the thing that you max the aircraft out at long before you ever get up against the weight carrying capabilities," he says. "[The A321 freighter] makes a lot of sense in the burgeoning e-commerce sector because density is an issue, not the weight-carrying capability of the aircraft."
"We see it as a very high growth potential in the coming years," Hete adds.