Last year, Cargo Facts reported on news that Bombardier, in cooperation with Canada-based Air Inuit, and B/E Aerospace (now a part of Rockwell Collins) was developing a new passenger-to-freighter conversion program for the Q300 turboprop. The program is now progressing well, with news that shortly after Rockwell Collins completed conversion of its first Q300 (msn 300) to bulk-load freighter configuration, it was awarded a new STC from Transport Canada.
A separate STC for the large-door conversion is expected to follow. David Vanderzwaag, director, Programs and Sales, Interior Systems for Rockwell Collins tells Cargo Facts, “The large cargo door is still under development,” adding that he expects approval of that STC in late 2017 or early 2018.
The first three large-door conversions will go to Canada-based launch customer Air Inuit – which already operates two Q300PFs it converted to bulk-load freighter configuration under its own STC some time ago. So why the new STC for bulk-load modification?
“Rockwell Collins has generated a brand new STC under a new design” says Vanderzwaag. The refreshed design includes a few safety and operational features the original modification STC left out. “This new Rockwell Collins STC and design is a significant improvement over Air Inuit’s previous STC for a number of reasons, including LED lighting, recessed smoke detectors, lighter-weight floor modification, improved ECS and ventilation control system and the incorporation of an ANCRA cargo loading system” Vanderzwaag added.
Perhaps most importantly however, the STC will allow Rockwell Collins to sell the modifications in kit form that can be installed by a third-party. The same goes for the forthcoming large-door conversion kit, once an STC is issued. After Rockwell Collins has both STCs, it will offer the Q300 conversion kits in four configurations, with the large-door and small-door versions available in both palletized and bulk-load variants. The large cargo door will offer an opening of 274 x 173 cm (108 x 68 inches). Ancra’s cargo loading system meanwhile, accommodates up to nine 46” x 66” pallets, with each pallet capable of handling 635kg of payload (1400lbs).
Air Inuit is also the launch customer for the large-door program. Its launch order is for the conversion of its three bulk-load freighters (the two it converted itself, plus the one just converted by Rockwell Collins) to large-door configuration.
Rockwell Collins’ long-term goal, of course, is to convert more than just three freighters for one Canadian airline, and Vanderzwaag says the company is “in discussions with other operators” for its 5.5 to 6.5-tonne capacity Q300 conversions.
Those interested in learning more about the worldwide demand for freighter aircraft over the next 20-years are invited to check out Air Cargo Management Group’s Freighter Forecast, which for the first time, includes turboprop freighter demand. The report contains analysis of future prospects for fifteen aircraft types that will dominate the future freighter market, including production status, performance characteristics, and freighter conversion program availability.