Grounding of IAI-converted 737s extends to 737-700s

The rigid barrier irregularity discovered by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which led to Australian carrier Qantas grounding its four converted 737-300 freighters, affects more than just -300BDSFs. Alaska Airlines has also grounded its fleet of three 737-700BDSFs, which it received in 2017 and 2018.

IAI told Cargo Facts that approximately 40 aircraft in total are affected by the issue, but said that it has already come up with an interim solution in the form of a service bulletin and an airworthiness directive, both of which were issued today.

Two of Alaska’s freighters (30793 and 30794) are currently in Anchorage (ANC), while another (30792) is in Seattle (SEA). None of the three has flown since Dec. 10. The airline has embargoes in place for general and priority cargo to Barrow (BRW), Bethel (BET), Deadhorse (SCC), Kodiak (ADQ), Kotzebue (OTZ) and Nome (OME). ULDs, which can only be loaded onto the maindeck of its freighters, are also unavailable for use. Alaska told Cargo Facts that it has now begun flying three of its 737-800/900 passenger aircraft as dedicated freighters, primarily between SEA and Alaska, as well as within Alaska.

Apart from Alaska Airlines, the only other operator of 737-700BDSFs is India-based SpiceJet, which took redelivery of its first 737-700BDSF (29042) in 2018 and two more this year (29084 and 30512). Units 29042 and 30512 have been in Delhi (DEL) since Dec.11, while unit 29084 appears to have still been flying earlier today.

IAI reiterated that the rigid barrier does not affect flight operations under normal conditions, but did not comment on whether its 737-800BDSF program, which has still not yet received certification, is also affected.

While the first 737-800BDSF (30498, ex-Transaero Airlines) has remained on the ground at Tel Aviv (TLV) since a test flight on Sept. 9, the second 737-800, converted into cargo configuration by IAI (28619, ex-Pegasus), is currently airborne over Europe. The last time this frame flew on a test flight was Nov. 21.

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