While recent years have witnessed redelivery of the first of the next generation of narrowbody freighter conversions, the narrowbody conversion space is about to get even busier and more competitive next year.
Not only will a second platform, the A321, be introduced but, by the end of 2019, up to three additional narrowbody conversion programs are expected to secure Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs), including IAI’s 737-800BDSF, PEMCO’s 737-700 Flex-Combi and EFW’s A321-200P2F. A fourth program from 321 Precision Conversions, meanwhile, is due to be certified in early to mid-2020.
Beyond early 2020, even more narrowbody conversion programs are in the works:
- Sine Draco Aviation Technology is working with Sierra Completions to develop an A321-200 SDF program.
- EFW is developing an STC for an A320 P2F program
- C3 Aerospace formally launched an A320P2F program in 2017, and later plans to develop an STC for the A321-200.
Despite the plethora of active narrowbody conversion programs, feedstock remains constrained, not only for the NG types, but for 737 Classics and 757s as well. The feedstock shortage has been exacerbated by the global grounding of the 737 MAX in March of this year, which has led carriers to defer retirements or lease-in alternative capacity while the aircraft remains out-of-service. Once the FAA recertifies the program, the sudden influx of narrowbody capacity – both reactivated units and a backlog of deliveries could quickly liberate feedstock. In 2018, Boeing delivered 256 MAX aircraft, a figure which is set to accelerate from 42/month today, to 57/month by 2020.
When it comes to widebody conversion programs, no new STCs are formally being developed, though IAI and possibly Boeing and others as well are expected to eventually develop 777 P2F programs. Few carriers have publicly expressed interest in a freighter-converted 777, but this could be changing – particularly as few options exist for replacing aging widebody freighters.
Tomorrow, part II of “Who’s who in freighter conversions” will examine each of the major conversion houses, their conversions to-date and expected upcoming redeliveries.
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