While the peak of conversion orders is beginning to level off, the need for additional capacity continues to rise, with at least fifteen conversion lines being activated in 2022.
Conversion providers continue to address the additional orders they receive, even if the pace of demand has gradually subsided.
Here are the fifteen new lines that started work this year for currently certified jet freighter conversion programs.
Bedek Lingyun (Yichang) Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co. (Belinco) reached a milestone this year when it opened a new 737-800BDSF conversion line with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) — a partial owner of the Chinese facility. The inaugural door cutting took place in September on a 737-800 owned by World Star Aviation (34014, ex-Virgin Australia).
As the pilot steering the growth of 737NG freighters, Boeing took matters into its own hands to address the demand for conversions and added a new site for its 737-800 conversion program at its own London Gatwick (LGW) facility.
After starting with a single line earlier this year with unit 33973 (ex-FlyEgypt), Boeing announced in July it would add a surge line at LGW and planned to start it in November, further cementing its ability to address growing conversion orders.
Boeing launched a new conversion site in Latin America by opening two 737-800BCF lines at the Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (COOPESA) facility in San Jose (SJO), Costa Rica.
Boeing remains steadfast in its strategy to convert 767-300ERs almost at the same rate as it produces factory-built aircraft, with the addition of two more conversion lines for the 767-300BCF at the Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company Ltd. (GAMECO) facility in Guangzhou (CAN).
Boeing now has a total of two lines at the GAMECO facility and a total of six lines for its 767-300BCF program and redelivered its first 767-300BCF (41746, ex-LATAM) — also its first conversion — at the facility in October.
Meanwhile, GAMECO also initiated a third line for 737-800BCF conversions in January.
The HAECO facility in Xiamen (XMN) would play a vital role in 321 Precision Conversions’ expansion plans for 2022 by becoming the first A321PCF line outside the U.S. for the program.
Earlier in the year, 321 Precision Conversions activated the new conversion line at the HAECO facility, which currently also operates two 757-200PCF lines for Precision Aircraft Solutions and could potentially add a second A321PCF line in the future.
HAECO’s transition to the A321PCF program was fluid given the established relationship it has with 321 Precision Conversions and Precision Aircraft Solutions’ parent company Erickson Precision Ventures.
After partnering with Ethiopian Airlines to implement the first 767-300BDSF conversion line in Africa, IAI expanded its 767-300BDSF conversions to Eastern Europe in September at the Jat Tehnika facility in Belgrade (BEG) to meet growing demand.
The Challenge Group’s 1996-vintage aircraft (25588, ex-Air Canada) arrived at BEG on Sept. 15 to become the first induction for the company and the first aircraft to be converted at the Jat Tehnika facility.
ST Engineering’s Mobile Aerospace Engineering (MAE) checked off two items on its to-do list this year. The facility expanded its capabilities when it provided EFW with additional capacity for its A330P2F program and became the first facility to establish a conversion line for the A330 in North America. The first A330-300 (908, ex-Onur Air) arrived in Mobile (BFM), Ala., on March 29.
The 2008-vintage aircraft, belonging to CDB Aviation, was expected to begin conversion in April, ST Engineering told Cargo Facts.
National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR)’s WERX program at Wichita State University announced in May that it had finalized an agreement with Erickson Precision Ventures, parent company of Precision Aircraft Solutions.
Under this new partnership, NIAR will perform touch labor at its facilities at McConnell Air Force Base (IAB) for both the A321PCF and 757-200PCF conversion programs, and began working on its first A321-200 (1953, ex-AtlasGlobal) in August.
The Shanghai Technologies Aerospace Company Limited (STARCO) facility in Shanghai (PVG) established a first for China in 2022, after reaching an agreement with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) first A330P2F to open a new conversion line for the A330P2F program and becoming the first in the country to cut the door on the Airbus medium widebody airframe.
The A330-300 (937, ex-SmartLynx) arrived in Q1 2022 ahead of its conversion and had its door cut on Aug. 18 and is expected to have its conversion completed by yearend.
ST Engineering opened another Boeing 767-300BCF conversion line in August, this time at its ST Aerospace (Guangzhou) Aviation Services facility in Guangzhou (CAN). A 2001-vintage 767-300ER (30853, ex-EuroAtlantic Airways) arrived on Aug. 8 ahead of its conversion.
Boeing announced the new conversion line in February at the Singapore Airshow, bringing its 767-300BCF conversion line total to three at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, with its newest line at ST Aerospace facility and two lines at the GAMECO facility.
STAECO enhanced Boeing’s 737-800BCF program when the planemaker decided to add two more conversion lines in 2022, increasing the planemaker’s capacity in Jinan (TNA) from five to seven conversion lines.
In addition to Boeing’s conversions, STAECO also has two 737-800SF lines for Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI).
While Aspire MRO is a new conversion site that started work in 2022 for Mammoth Freighters, the 777-200LRMF program is still in the development stage ahead of its certification and therefore not included in the list above.
Mammoth’s 777-200LRMF prototype (29742, ex-Delta Air Lines) is currently undergoing conversion at the Aspire MRO facility at Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW) and was officially inducted in August.
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