STC holders announced or told Cargo Facts about a total of at least twenty-five new conversion lines around the world in 2021, with twelve facilities now providing or set to provide touch labor for freighter conversions for the first time.
There can be no clearer reflection of the interest and demand currently in the conversion market, with multi-year backlogs in place for most programs.
Here is an overview of all the new freighter conversion lines that emerged in 2021.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) only cut metal on its prototype 777-300ERSF in Tel Aviv (TLV) earlier this in 2021, but has already selected two new sites that will work on “The Big Twin” while its own TLV facility continues to convert 767s.
The first of those sites is the Etihad Engineering facility in Abu Dhabi (AUH), which will provide two lines beginning in 2023. The first aircraft to pass through will be for Emirates, which announced at the Dubai Airshow that it will convert at least four of its own 777-300ERs into 777-300ERSFs.
A new Sharp Technics K facility in Seoul (ICN) housing two lines will also start producing 777-300ERSFs for IAI in 2024.
Mammoth Freighters, which unveiled its conversion program for 777-200LRs and 777-300ERs in September, announced later that month that it would acquire a 50% stake in the MRO division of Texas-based GDC Technics.
GDC told Cargo Facts that it will use two of the six widebody bays at its Fort Worth Alliance (AFW) facility for Mammoth conversions. The conformity aircraft will begin conversion around mid-2022 and eventually be redelivered to launch customer Cargojet.
Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) said at Cargo Facts EMEA in June that it is aiming to bump up A330P2F redeliveries to around twenty-five per year by 2023 and that it will do that by launching conversion lines in China and the U.S.
ST Engineering, which is a joint venture partner in EFW along with Airbus, has since confirmed to Cargo Facts that the two locations will be the Shanghai Technologies Aerospace Company Limited (STARCO) and VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering facilities, with both starting in 2022.
Boeing has been using only the ST Engineering facilities in Singapore for 767-300BCF conversions since Evergreen Aviation Technologies (EGAT) in Taipei (TPE) stopped conversion work at the end of 2019.
Boeing started a third line in Singapore with a LATAM aircraft that recently entered into service — coincidentally the fiftieth 767-300BCF — but has also announced that it will add two new lines at the Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company Ltd. (GAMECO) facility in 2022.
IAI announced in August that it will start converting 767s at the Ethiopian Airlines Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul facility in Addis Ababa (ADD) but declined to comment on timing.
Ethiopian Airlines, which had told Cargo Facts that it would convert two of its own 767-300ERs at ADD, recently confirmed to Cargo Facts that it expects to have both flying in 2022.
Apart from A330P2Fs in Mobile, EFW is also now using ST Engineering’s VT San Antonio Aerospace facility for its A321P2F conversions, having recently inducted the first unit.
VT San Antonio joins the ST Aerospace (Guangzhou) Aviation Services facility as well as ST’s own facilities in Singapore in providing touch labor for A321-200P2Fs.
Soon after 321 Precision Conversions received certification for its A321-200PCF in April 2021, the company started an A321PCF conversion line at the PEMCO facility in Tampa (TPA). The first aircraft, which had arrived there in May, will join the SmartLynx fleet on lease from Cross Ocean Partners.
Additionally, the HAECO Americas facility in Lake City (LCQ) will also begin working on its first A321PCF conversion shortly. Global Crossing Airlines recently confirmed to Cargo Facts that it expects to take delivery of that aircraft on lease from Greenwich Highland Aviation in August 2022.
Boeing has announced eight new lines for its 737-800BCF program this year, starting with a third at GAMECO in Guangzhou (CAN), which only completed its first unit in late 2020.
Then, in May, the planemaker said it had selected the Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (COOPESA) facility in San Jose (SJO) as the site for two new lines, with COOPESA telling Cargo Facts that both will become operational in 2022. COOPESA has previously carried out 737 Classic conversions for PEMCO.
Boeing will also convert 737-800s in Europe and Canada, announcing at the Dubai Airshow that it is establishing one line at the Boeing MRO facility at London Gatwick Airport (LGW) in Spring 2022 and two in 2023 at the KF Aerospace facility in Kelowna (YLW), which is already a conversion site for Aeronautical Engineers Inc.
More recently, Boeing said it will add two more 737-800BCF conversion lines at the Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd. (STAECO) facility in Jinan (TNA), with both starting in 2022.
IAI is similarly looking to expand its 737 conversion activities to Europe. The company said in July that it will use the Atitech facility in Naples (NAP) as a conversion site for its 737NG program but did not provide details of timing, although Atitech confirmed to Cargo Facts that it recently began working on its first unit.
Earlier in 2021, IAI also said that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Lithuania-based Aviatic MRO to eventually establish a 737 conversion line and cooperate on other projects.
IAI had explored Aviatic’s facility at Siauliai Airport (SQQ) as a potential conversion site in late 2019.