Consortium looks for partner to take over 737-300/400 cargo conversion programme as GAMECO sets up new line

Taiwanese consortium Inter-Continental Aircraft Services (ICAS), which offers cargo conversions for the Boeing 737 Classic, is to close its doors. Meanwhile, Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has finalised a deal with Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (GAMECO) that will lead to a new conversion line being set up in China within the next few months.

ICAS president Alex Tong says the consortium is in the process of closing and will shut its doors for good in November, but is trying to find another company, preferably in Taiwan, to take over its cargo conversion programme.

The move leaves Aeronautical Engineers, IAI and Pemco Aviation Group as the only providers of cargo conversions for the 737-300/400.

The Taiwanese government along with local maintenance company Air Asia, China Airlines (CAL), EVA Air maintenance arm Evergreen Aviation Technologies and manufacturer Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation established ICAS in 2000 to pursue cargo conversions with Boeing, which ceded its prime role in the programme to ICAS in 2002, but continued to provide technical data. Alaska Airlines agreed in July 2004 to be the launch customer and Flight Structures (FSI) began to help ICAS with developing a supplemental type certificate. But earlier this year Alaska terminated its five-aircraft contract with ICAS in favour of a new deal with Pemco and FSI decided to withdraw from the team. ICAS initially launched an effort to recruit another launch customer, but its members have since decided against injecting more capital.

“The board of directors has decided not to continue to support the programme. We’re trying to find ways to continue with another party,” says Tong.

Air Asia says the closing of ICAS has forced it to give up its attempt to expand into cargo conversions. GAMECO is poised to become the first 737-300/400 cargo conversion centre in Asia because Garuda Maintenance Facility AeroAsia, Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering (TAECO) and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) have also failed so far to begin 737 cargo conversions. Garuda is partnered with IAI, and TAECO and MAS with Pemco.

Meanwhile, GAMECO has inked a formal contract with IAI to become a subcontractor on its 737-300/400SF programme. “With the agreement done we can launch the cargo conversion programme,” says GAMECO, adding that the first 737 will be converted starting late this year or early next year.

China Postal Airlines earlier this year selected IAI to convert at least three Boeing 737-300s, the first of which will be ferried to Israel for conversion this month. GAMECO may convert some of the additional China Postal aircraft, but says its deal with IAI is not limited to Chinese customers.


Source: Flight International