B/E Aerospace will go head-to-head with EADS’ freighter conversion unit Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) in the Airbus A300-600 passenger-to-freighter (PTF) market when it begins conversions for China Southern Airlines.
In a $37.2 million deal announced today, B/E says its Flight Structures group has been selected by China Southern to convert six A300-600 passenger aircraft to freighters. The conversions will begin in the second quarter of 2007 and are expected to be completed by the end of that year, B/E director of investor relations Doug Dean tells Flight.
Flight Structures will develop the engineering and certification package, and manufacture the structure components, while China Southern affiliate Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (Gameco) has been selected to perform the conversions. This will include modifications to the floor and floor-support structures, airframe, and mechanical and electrical systems.
Seattle-based Flight Structures originally developed an A300B4 PTF conversion programme with the UK’s BAE Systems, and acquired it from the British company in 2002. In October 2005, Flight Structures was in detailed discussions with China Southern to launch its proposed PTF conversion programme for the A300-600 (Flight International, 4-10 October 2005).
“With nearly 300 A300-600 aircraft in service today, industry analysts have estimated over 160 are reaching the end of their useful passenger life, making this airframe an ideal candidate for conversion to a new mission as a cargo freighter, and representing a potential market of more than $1 billion,” says B/E chief executive Amin Khoury.
“The China Southern programme should allow B/E to leverage its proven capabilities in passenger-to-freighter conversions to this new airframe platform,” he adds.
According to Flight's fleet data base ACAS, China Southern’s Pratt & Whitney PW4158-powered A300-600 aircraft were built between 1994 and 1997.
JOE SINGLETON / WASHINGTON, DC