By Arie Egozi
Tel Aviv: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Aviation Group signed an agreement with Ethiopian Airlines to establish a conversion site for Boeing 767-300 passenger aircraft. The new passenger-to-freighter conversion centre, which will operate from the company’s maintenance centre in Addis Ababa, will provide solutions for the rising demand for cargo aircraft of these models. The conversion line in Ethiopia will join existing conversion sites IAI operates at its campus in Ben Gurion International Airport and in Mexico.
Ethiopian Airlines’ MRO Center is well-known and highly experienced. It is approved by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The new site will be the largest and most advanced in Africa. The conversion site will provide solutions in the field of converting passenger aircraft to cargo configuration, aircraft maintenance and overhaul, staff training and guidance, as well as assistance in acquiring certification and licenses. The establishment of the center is a testament to IAI’s growing impact around the world.
IAI’s Executive VP and General Manager of Aviation Group, Yossi Melamed said: “We are witnessing a sharp rise in the demand for cargo aircraft as a result of the rise in e-commerce, which has peaked to record levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. IAI has an excellent reputation as a conversion center of passenger-to-freighters aircraft, and we are constantly receiving requests to open such conversion centers in more and more locations around the world. I am excited by the opening of the current center in Ethiopia, and thank my colleagues in Ethiopian Airlines for the trust they have put in IAI’s Aviation Group, as the world’s leader in conversions.”
Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said: “In line with our Diversified Aviation Business Model of Vision 2025, we have been increasing our cargo capacity in fleet, ground service infrastructure and cargo connectivity network. Accordingly, we are partnering with IAI, one of the global technology leaders in the Aerospace industry, in building a cargo conversion center in our MRO facilities in Addis Ababa Airport. The Cargo conversion centre will commence its first business with three Ethiopian Airlines owned B-767-300 aircraft. The Cargo Conversion Centre in ADD HUB airport will expand its services to all airlines in Africa and the wider region. We are very happy that we are able to collaborate with IAI to enable us to expand our cargo and logistics services which is already the largest and leading cargo network in Africa. The capacity building will also help us expand our MRO services with cutting edge technology and knowledge transfer.”
As reported by Raksha Anirveda, IAI recently has begun the structural modification phase in the conversion of the first Boeing 777-300ERSF, in partnership with GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). The beginning of the conversion marks the end of the development process and the start of the structural and systems modification phase. The conversion process will take approximately 130 days, at the end of which the passenger aircraft will be turned into a freighter aircraft.
IAI has vast experience in the conversion of passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft. The company has regional conversion centers in different countries and plans to open new ones to cut the time of the conversion. This is based on a forecast for a dramatic increase in the demand of cargo aircraft.
The development process of the 777 conversion is complicated and highlights IAI engineers’ extensive experience in aviation, with their envisioned goal of creating a cargo conversion aircraft that will have the high quality and capabilities providing clients with the optimal solution. The passenger-to-freighter conversion includes changing the structure, which involves installing a new cargo door, replacing and strengthening the aircraft floor, installing reinforcements near the cargo opening, and modifying electrical systems to enable safe and convenient operation. In addition, the process will include receiving certification for the converted aircraft by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), among others.