Yesterday, PEMCO completed flight testing with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its 737-700 FlexCombi conversion program. The conformity aircraft (30293, an ex-Yakutia) landed in Tampa (TPA) at 3:53PM local time after passing a smoke intrusion test – the last in a series of flight tests with the FAA ahead of the program’s receipt of a supplemental type certificate (STC).
With flight testing out of the way, PEMCO’s 737-700 FlexCombi program is now in its final stages of FAA supplemental type certification. The conversion house is in the process of submitting its completed application docket to the FAA, and once received, the FAA has up to 90 days to review the application. An STC could be issued earlier within the 90 day timeframe.
Now expected in 1Q20, STC certification for the FlexCombi has been delayed more than a year. When final skin cuts were made to the conformity aircraft in October 2017, PEMCO had expected the FAA to sign-off on the program between late 2018, and early 2019. A U.S. federal government shutdown that began on Dec. 22 of last year and lasted 35 days impeded the certification progress.
Shortly after the government resumed operating, the grounding of the 737 MAX created bottlenecks in some FAA divisions and has made it increasingly difficult to schedule flight tests with the FAA. PEMCO is not alone in facing subsequent delays. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has encountered similar FAA-certification delays with its 737-800BDSF program, which began flight tests in March 2019.
Redelivery of the aircraft to the launch customer, Bahrain-based Texel Air, would occur immediately following certification, PEMCO told Cargo Facts. Texel has two other 737-700 conversions on order with PEMCO – a second FlexCombi and a full-freighter variant. Texel’s second and third 737-700s will be inducted following redelivery of the conformity aircraft with the 737-700 full freighter slated for induction ahead of the second Combi.
PEMCO’s FlexCombi conversion will allow operation in three interchangeable configurations rather than having a single, fixed configuration:
- A 24-passenger cabin plus a 2,640-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 30,000 pounds of payload in six pallet positions;
- A 12-passenger cabin plus a 3,005-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 35,000 pounds of payload in seven pallet positions; and
- A full-freighter mode consisting of a 3,370-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 40,000 pounds of payload in eight pallet positions.
The full-freighter variant, meanwhile, offers a ninth pallet position and payloads up to 45,000 lbs.
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