Qantas is preparing to open a Boeing 737-300 cargo conversion line at its Avalon maintenance facility with support from new partner Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).

Industry sources say Qantas and IAI’s Bedek Aviation subsidiary are negotiating a contract involving Bedek supplying conversion kits to be installed by Qantas on at least four 737-300s.

Qantas 737 freighter conversion W445

 Ex-Qantas JetConnect 737's are to undergo conversion

The agreement will make Qantas the second maintenance repair and overhaul centre outside Israel to join IAI’s 737-300/400SF programme after China’s Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (GAMECO). Bedek completed its first 737-300SF last year and GAMECO plans to deliver its first aircraft at the end of June.

Qantas plans to convert for its subsidiary Australian Air Express four 737-300s formerly operated by its New Zealand subsidiary JetConnect.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union confirms Qantas is preparing to open a 737 cargo conversion line at Avalon as part of a restructuring of its maintenance business, which includes shifting all 747 heavy maintenance from Sydney to Avalon, but says it is still waiting to receive the details. IAI confirms it is in discussions with Qantas.

GAMECO, meanwhile, says it began cutting the fuselage last week on its first 737-300SF, an ex-China Southern Airlines aircraft owned by General Electric Commercial Aviation Services that will be delivered to China Postal at the end of June.

GAMECO says it plans to open a second 737-300/400 cargo conversion line later this year for IAI and will also convert aircraft for non-Chinese operators using IAI’s supplemental type certificate.


Source: Flight International