A320/A321 conversion programme launched

17 / 06 / 2015

  • At the Paris Air Show, Airbus signed an agreement with Singapore-based ST Aerospace to offer passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion solutions for its A320/A321 aircraft

Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aerospace) has signed collaboration agreements with Airbus and the Airbus subsidiary Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH (EFW) to launch the A320/A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion programme. 

This follows a similar collaboration for the A330 P2F programme launched in 2013. Under the new agreements, ST Aerospace will lead the A320/A321 P2F engineering development, with conversions to be undertaken in EFW and in ST Aerospace's global network of facilities. 

The agreements were signed by Lim Serh Ghee, president of ST Aerospace, Harald Wilhem, chief financial officer of Airbus Group, Tom Williams, chief operating officer of Airbus, and Andreas Sperl, chief executive of EFW, at the Paris Airshow.

Ghee said: ”As a centre of excellence for freighter conversions, with strong engineering capabilities across multiple aircraft platforms, this new collaboration will extend our conversion portfolio and enhance our value-added proposition to customers worldwide.

"The A320 P2F and A321 P2F will be excellent workhorses, which would offer aircraft operators great value and efficiency."

ST Aerospace will take the technical lead during the A320/A321 P2F development phase, similar to current arrangements for the A330 P2F. Airbus will actively support the programme by providing the OEM data and certification support.

EFW will drive sales and marketing activities and lead the industrialisation phase.

Dr Sperl said: ”We are convinced of the significant market potential for our product. Beginning with the A321 P2F variant, we will be the only one to offer our customers a reliable OEM conversion solution with conversion facilities in Asia, Europe and the US."

The A320/A321 P2F programme includes two versions - the A320 P2F and the larger A321 P2F. The fuselage design of the A320 and A321 allows bulk cargo or containerised freight to be carried in belly holds, delivering more loading flexibility.

Said Tom Williams: “This is the only Airbus-supported A320 family freighter conversion programme, and as such will take full benefit of our inherent design knowledge of the aircraft, our engineering know-how, as well as the extensive operational experience from the thousands of Airbus single-aisle aircraft in service today.

“We are therefore confident this will be the best solution for freight operators and we’re pleased to collaborate with EFW and ST Aerospace to make this happen.”

Airbus foresees a significant market demand for more than 600 narrowbody passenger aircraft to be converted to freighters over the next 20 years. The A320 P2F, with eleven main-deck positions, can carry a 21 tonne payload over 2,100nm, while the A321 P2F, with 14 main-deck positions, will carry up to 27 tonnes over 1,900nm. 

Stephan Hollmann, chief executive of rival engineering and conversion specialist, the PACAVI Group, said: "We see a competing A320 family P2F effort as an endorsement of our market assessment and our own P2F programme.

"It’s no surprise to us that others want to participate in such an attractive market as well. As we are on track to obtain the STC for both the A320 and A321 in 2017, PACAVI is ahead of the game.”