Just as IAI’s Bedek Aviation Group nears completion of the Supplemental Type Certification process for its first 737-700BDSF conversion, a new partner has emerged. During the 2017 Paris Air Show, China-based MRO, Tianjin Aircraft Engineering Co. (TAEC), a subsidiary of the Haite Group, revealed itself as Bedek’s “development partner” for both the 737-700 and 737-800 BDSF (Bedek Special Freighter) conversion programs.
Although Bedek did not go into specifics regarding TAEC’s role, it is likely that TAEC’s MRO facilities in Chengdu and Tianjin will provide touch labor for both of the 737NG conversion programs. China is of course, expected to be one of the largest markets for narrowbody conversions in the coming years, as they are of great appeal to integrators serving the e-commerce market. While Bedek and TAEC could feasibly collaborate on the sales and support side as well, IAI Bedek will likely handle the lions’ share of the engineering.
Alaska Airlines, the launch customer for Bedek’s 737-700BDSF is expecting to take redelivery of the first of three conversions (30794) in July 2017, pending receipt of the STC. The -800BDSF variant meanwhile, will follow sometime afterwards, with development of the conversion program to begin soon, according to Bedek.
As for the order book, Alaska Airlines holds options for a fourth 737-700BDSF conversion. Additionally, US-based Spectre Air Capital announced an order in October 2016 for fifteen 737-800 and 737-700 passenger-to-freighter conversions, plus rolling options for fifteen more. The first three conversions will be 737-800BDSFs for Korea-based Air Incheon, which will take the freighters from Spectre on long-term lease, with the first redelivery scheduled for the third quarter of 2017.
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. 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.