How many 757 combis does the world really need?

Another 757-200 passenger-to-combi program was launched last week. US-based Global Aviation Holdings and Singapore Technologies Engineering announced that North American Airlines (a subsidiary of Global) would be the launch customer for a 757-200 passenger-to-combi program offered by VT Systems (ST Engineering’s North American subsidiary). This follows the announcement in September of a 757-200 P-to-combi conversion program by Pemco (with National Air Cargo as the launch customer), and the November launch of Precision Conversions’ 757 combi program by Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM).

 

The impetus for all three programs is the expectation that the US military will soon issue an RFP for airlift to replace the DC-8 combis currently operated by Air Transport International (which, like CAM, is a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group). There is also likely to be a small market worldwide for a combi version of the 757-200. It is an aircraft well-suited to the needs of military support operations, but demand for it will not be anywhere near as big as the market for the pure freighter version. (ST Aero has already converted two 757-200s to multi-role military transport configuration for the New Zealand Air Force.)

 

Nonetheless, we now have three carriers launching programs at three conversion houses, all aimed at a program that will require only a small handful of aircraft, and which will be awarded to only one competitor. What will become of the other two? Cargo Facts suspects (though we don’t know for sure), that some or all of the programs will be carried only to the point at which the road forks between combi and freighter. That is, the engineering will be completed, and the aircraft modified with a large cargo door. Then, the winner will carry on with a cargo compartment in front and a passenger compartment in the rear, but the losers will have the option of going to full freighter configuration.

 

(For details of the ST Aero 757 combi conversion, and how it compares to the Pemco and Precision programs, see upcoming issues of Cargo Facts and Cargo Facts Update.)

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2 Comments

  1. A quick update to the 757 combi situation: The one absolutely sure thing among all the many potential 757 combi deals being pursued is TNT Airways'[ contract to operate combi aircraft for NATO. We’ve covered this in the past, and speculated that they would go for a 757, and today this was confirmed with an announcement that ST Aero signed an agreement with Guggenheim Aviation Partners to convert a 757-200 to combi configuration for end user TNT.  Touch labor will be done at ST’s Singapore facility (unlike the North American Airlines conversion which will be done at ST Mobile), and ST will seek certification from both FAA and EASA. 

     

    ST Aero converted two 752s to multi-role military transport configuration for the New Zealand Air Force a couple of years ago, and while these were not certified for commercial use, much of the work will likely transfer to this new program.

  2. roberttconvey says:

    This is an interesting development; from what I know of the NATO requirement the configuration differs from both that of the New Zealand Air Force and the current US Air Force which means that each combi program will have a full NRE burden. 

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