Hot market prompts new AEI conversion center

  • Charles Kauffman
  • February 28, 2017
  • 0
2-12-13 D

A freshly-converted 737-400SF

Trying to secure a 737-Classic passenger-to-freighter conversion in 2017? Good luck, if you have not already nabbed a conversion slot.

Conversion houses are facing unprecedented demand for narrowbody conversions, leaving the limited number of conversion lines with significant backlogs. Yesterday, Miami-based conversion house Aeronautical Engineers, Inc. (AEI) selected Canada-based KF Aerospace as its fourth Authorized Conversion Center in an attempt to free up additional conversion capacity.

Beginning this April, KF Aerospace will setup one P-to-F conversion line for AEI at its MRO facility in Kelowna, British Columbia. Soon after, KF will begin work on its first 737-400 freighter conversion for AEI.  At present, AEI offers passenger-to-freighter conversion programs  for 737-300, 737-400, 737-800, MD-80, and CRJ-200. KF will begin with a single conversion line for AEI, but could add another in the future.

Looking now at AEI’ authorized conversion lines, most of the company’s conversions are done at the Commercial Jet facilities in Miami and Dothan, but AEI also has conversions performed by Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services in China. Whether Boeing Shanghai will continue to do conversions for AEI once it begins 737-800BCF conversions for Boeing, or whether AEI will find a new supplier in China has not been announced.

Returning to KF Aerospace’s designation as AEI’s fourth conversion center, the choice makes sense given KF’s past experience. In 2015 KF Aerospace converted a 737-300 (28594) into QC configuration for Canadian North using a PEMCO 737-300 passenger-to-freighter STC as a base for KF’s 737-300QC STC. Additionally, KF has completed dozens of cargo conversions on  727-200 and Convair CV580 airframes. Some of the CV580 freighters (known as CV5800s) are used by KF’s cargo division for scheduled feeder service within British Columbia.

KF is not just an MRO, but also has a long history as an airline. KF Cargo (previously known as Kelowna Flightcraft) for many years had a contract to provide overnight service for Canada Post/Purolator, but the loss of this bread-and-butter contract left KF with a fleet of underutilized DC-10F aircraft. A few of the DC-10 freighters were then put into service on trans-Atlantic routes, but were parked after those routes proved unprofitable. Since April 2016, KF Cargo has been operating two DC-10-30 freighters on routes between Miami and South America.

Interested in learning more about AEI conversions? We invite you to join us at Cargo Facts Asia 2017 in Shanghai 25-26 April, 2017, where Robert Convey, AEI’s Senior Vice Preident, Sales & Marketing,  will speak on a conversions panel discussion. For more information, or to register, visit www.cargofactsasia.com

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