Precision Conversions expects to gain a US supplemental type certificate (STC) for its Boeing 757-200 passenger-to-freighter modification early in the first quarter of 2004. It is also studying ways of boosting its conversion capacity to meet an anticipated surge in demand.

Modification work on the first Precision aircraft, a Boullioun Aviation Services-owned 757, is well under way at Goodrich's Everett, Washington, site.

The Precision-designed modification kit was developed using a sophisticated finite element model with more than 120,000 nodes, and provides for major modification of the forward fuselage for installation of a freight door, and strengthening of the main deck to accommodate 15 containers or pallets.

The converted aircraft will have a take-off weight of 113,500kg (250,000lb), space for up to 233m3 (8,210ft3) of main-deck cargo and a range of around 5,400km (2,900nm) at maximum load.

A second and third 757, including the first for follow-on leasing customer Ansett Worldwide, are due to follow the initial aircraft on to the conversion line later this year. Although Precision only holds firm orders for four conversions, marketing manager Brian McCarthy says: "We are not so worried about a whole lot of follow-on orders just yet."

With a growing number of 757s either stored or available off-lease, he says Precision is "studying a lot of ways to increase production capacity through 2004. We are making sure the people we are working with now can produce more when the time comes." McCarthy adds that Goodrich "for now has the capacity to keep up", but that the initial focus has been on building up the support infrastructure for a guaranteed run of kits. "We've bought entire mill runs of extensions and raw materials," he says.

Source: Flight International