ST Engineering and Airbus converting A321 passenger jet into cargo freighter for US customer

As part of the venture, Airbus will contribute original equipment manufacturer data and certification support.
As part of the venture, Airbus will contribute original equipment manufacturer data and certification support.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - ST Engineering's joint venture with Airbus, Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), has secured a letter of intent from US-based aircraft leasing company BBAM for an A321 converted freighter.

The passenger aircraft will be inducted for conversion into a 14-pallet cargo configuration in mid-2020, and is scheduled for redelivery to BBAM in end-2020, ST Engineering said in a media statement on Thursday (June 20).

The letter of intent was inked at the ongoing Paris Airshow 2019. BBAM's order follows a launch contract announced in 2018.

The A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) programme was launched in 2015 together with the P2F programme for A320, and is a collaboration between ST Engineering, Airbus and EFW.

Under the programme, ST Engineering is responsible for the engineering development phase, up to obtaining the supplemental type certificate approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the US Federal Aviation Administration. Airbus contributes original equipment manufacturer data and certification support, while EFW leads the overall programme as well as marketing and sales.

The A321 P2F is the first conversion solution to introduce a containerised lower deck for narrow-body freighters. Narrow-body jets have a single aisle through the passenger cabin, as opposed to wide-body aircraft which have two aisles. For this smaller size category, other conversion programmes typically offer containerised loading only in the main deck.

"With a generous payload-range capability that can carry up to 27.9 tonnes over 2,300 nautical miles, the A321 P2F is the ideal narrow-body freighter aircraft for express domestic and regional operations," ST Engineering said.

Other P2F solutions by ST Engineering using the Airbus platform include the A330 that comes with two variants - the A330-200 and the larger A330-300. The first A330-200 and A330-300 converted freighters have been redelivered to EgyptAir Cargo and DHL Express respectively, while more units are undergoing conversion.

BBAM provides fleet and financing solutions to airline customers around the world, and manages investments in leased commercial jet aircraft.

Shares of ST Engineering were trading up one cent at $4.18 as at 10.07am on Thursday.