Freighter conversion action continues in China

Yesterday we reported that PacAvi had inducted its first A320 for conversion at the HAITEC facility in Frankfurt Hahn. Today our focus stays (to begin with) on PacAvi, but moves geographically to China, where PacAvi has reached an agreement with Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co., Ltd. (GAMECO), under which GAMECO will perform passenger-to-freighter conversions of A320 and A321 aircraft for PacAvi customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

While all of the major conversion houses have partnerships with MROs in China (and elsewhere in Asia), The PacAvi/GAMECO partnership is interesting for a couple of additional reasons.

First, while GAMECO is not well known for doing conversions, it does have some history in that regard. It performed a number of 737-300 P-to-F conversions for Bedek Aviation Group (the conversion/MRO arm of Israel Aerospace Industries) several years ago, before Bedek exited the narrowbody conversion market. It also performed the first A300-600 P-to-F conversion for Flight Structures, before that program was effectively abandoned (to resurface later in Turkey, but that’s another story).

Second, GAMECO is 50% owned by China Southern Airlines, which has the largest A320/A321 fleet in China, including 120 A320s and 75 A321s.

Now, moving away from PacAvi, but staying in China, Precision Aircraft Solutions this week began freighter conversion of another 757-200 (25886, ex-Air China) for SF Airlines, the Shenzhen-based air arm of Chinese express giant SF Express.

This is the tenth 757 P-to-F conversion SF Airlines has ordered from Precision, and is interesting because, as was the case with the ninth, it is of an aircraft SF had originally planned to have converted by Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aero).

In late 2013, SF Airlines placed a five-unit order with ST Aero for 15-pallet 757 conversions, becoming the launch customer for ST’s 15-pallet offering. The shifting of aircraft from ST Aero’s Seletar facility in Singapore to the Air China Technic facility in Chengdu for conversion by Precision is an indication of the incredible demand for express lift in China. The order for five conversions by ST Aero is still in force, but SF Airlines’ need is so urgent that it has shifted several aircraft from Seletar to Chengdu (a third has been moved but has not yet entered conversion) while ST Aero awaits certification of its first 15-pallet conversion.

Cargo Facts expects that once the ST Aero program is certified, SF Airlines will quickly acquire another four units and move them to Seletar.

And, as we have reported earlier, SF Airlines has ordered an undisclosed number (which we believe to be five) 767-300BCF conversions from Boeing, and is expected to soon begin conversion of six or more 737-300s, probably with PEMCO.

Just another normal week of conversion news from China…


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