Mexico-based Aeronaves TSM placed a firm order for two MD-82 passenger-to-freighter conversions with Aeronautical Engineers Inc. The first aircraft (49342, ex-American Airlines) will enter conversion at the Commercial Jet facility in Miami in June.
TSM currently operates five DC-9Fs, four Convair 600/640s (one of which is shown in the photo at right) and five Metro IIIs in cargo service, as well as a variety of small jets and turboprops in passenger service, from its hub in Saltillo. It also operates a road fleet, and offers hand courier and ground-handling services. Enrique Garza Cantu, the carrier’s CEO, said the addition of the MD-82Fs would allow TSM to service destinations currently unreachable with the DC-9Fs. In addition to the greater range, the MD-82Fs will also offer a 4-tonne payload increase to over 21 tonnes compared to the DC-9Fs. (We’ve got a really nice short video of a TSM DC-9F takeoff in our video section – you can watch it here.)
While the widebody conversion market has pretty much dried up, narrowbody conversion orders are pouring in almost faster than they can be counted. We’ll be examining this subject in some detail at the upcoming Cargo Facts Asia event in Hong Kong 16 – 17 April, and most of the players in the conversion business will be there – for more information or to register click here.
TSM is the third customer so far announced for AEI’s MD-80 conversion program, joining Everts Air Cargo and USA Jet. However, AEI says that by the end of 2013 there will be seven or eight MD-80s either converted to freighter configuration or in the process of conversion, and that it so far has orders for a total of twenty MD-80 conversions.