EFW earns Supplemental Type Certificate from EASA

Airbus freighter conversion specialist Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) has earned a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for its A320 Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) aircraft, EFW said Thursday. The first A320P2F aircraft ever developed, the aircraft joins a family of Airbus P2F programs that include the A330-200P2F, A330-300P2F, and A321P2F.

As with the A321P2F variant, the A320P2F resulted from a collaboration between program leader EFW and its parent companies, ST Engineering and Airbus. Owned by ST Aviation’s leasing arm, the A320P2F will become the first of five converted freighter aircraft on lease to Vaayu Group, an aviation services group of companies based in Washington state.

ST Engineering’s commercial aviation business announced the lease deal with the Vaayu Group during last month’s Singapore Airshow. Two of the aircraft already have found a home with an operator, Astral Aviation based in Nairobi, Kenya, which will become the first carrier to fly the narrowbody freighter conversion.

The initial aircraft took its first flight on December 8 at Singapore’s Seletar Airport where ST Engineering performs the conversions.

“With this STC, we have added another first in the world to our family of Airbus P2F platforms,” said EFW chief executive Andreas Sperl. “Airlines that employ different Airbus freighters to meet their various needs will get to enjoy improved operating economics due to the commonality across these platforms. Being a newer-generation freighter, it also offers greener fuel burn outcomes for its operators.”

EFW stresses that the large global fleet of Airbus A320 passenger aircraft means a healthy feedstock of options for the conversion company itself and for airlines and leasing companies wanting to invest in converted freighters. The A320P2F can accommodate 10 container positions and one pallet position in the main deck, and seven container positions in the lower deck. The freighter’s gross payload of up to 21 tons at a maximum range of 1,850 nm and total usable containerized volume of 159m3 (5,603ft3) gives it 85 percent stowage efficiency, according to EFW.

Key features of the P2F conversion include a main-deck, port-side, hydraulically-actuated cargo door measuring 142 by 85 inches that can lock electronically. The Class E cargo compartment meets industry requirements fully, with features such as a 9-g rigid cargo barrier, lightweight cargo lining, manually operated loading system, and reinforced floor panels and floor grid to cater for the higher running loads.

To meet the rising demand for freighter conversions, ST Engineering and EFW plan to establish new conversion sites in China and the U.S. this year and to increase conversion capacity for all their Airbus P2F programs to more than 60 slots per year by 2024.