Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), the joint venture created by Airbus and ST Engineering has achieved key milestones in the A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion programme with the delivery and entry-into-service on 2th October of the first converted aircraft to Qantas. This new P2F version is being leased by aircraft asset manager Vallair to Qantas, to operate services on behalf of Australia Post. Last month, following its flight tests, the newly completed aircraft had been delivered by EFW to Vallair.
These milestones mark the completion and ‘birth’ of the world’s first A321 converted freighter. EFW had received the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the A321P2F from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in February this year, and the Validation STC from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in July. Operator-specific enhancements were subsequently incorporated into the freighter and certified prior to its delivery from EFW to Vallair.
Andreas Hermann, VP Asset Management at Airbus and member of the EFW shareholder committee said: “We are very pleased to see the A321P2F programme entering service. The Airbus A321 is the platform which, by design, will offer the best economics, cargo capacity and performance in the Single-Aisle freighter segment going forward. For any asset owner this will provide an excellent opportunity to leverage future growth and replacement waves, underpinning the already great value proposition of the A321 today."
The A321P2F is the first in its size category to offer containerised loading in both the main (up to 14 full container positions) and lower deck (up to 10 container positions). With a generous payload-range capability that can carry 28 metric tonnes over 2,300 nautical miles, the A321P2F is the ideal Single-Aisle freighter aircraft for express domestic and regional operations. The conversion features a large main cargo door which is hydraulically actuated and electrically locked, a ‘Class-E’ main-deck cargo compartment with full rigid 9g barrier for optimal protection between crew and cargo, and a redefined flight deck that includes supernumerary seats.
The collaboration between ST Engineering, Airbus and EFW is the OEM-supported conversion for A321P2F in the market. There has been a keen interest from customers in the solution, which is expected to further grow with the first A321P2F unit entering the market. Looking further ahead, next year the story is set to take another stride when the first A320P2F will take shape.