By ARIE EGOZI
Tel Aviv. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) have now passed the planned halfway phase of the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Development Program for the 777-300ERSF. This is a key milestone for “the Big Twin,” the GECAS-IAI Co investment for the passenger-to-freighter conversion program of the GE-90 powered 777-300ER, as it now moves beyond planning into the phase of physically modifying the aircraft.
Under the “Big Twin” deal, IAI will convert wide-body, two-engine Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The first aircraft is due for delivery to GECAS in 2022. IAI is committed to providing GECAS with 15 converted aircraft, with an option for 15 additional conversions in the future. This agreement is the entry of the Israeli company into the 777-conversion market.
According to Yosi Melamed, IAI EVP and general manager of its Aviation group, the contract and others that will be signed in the future will be performed in the company’s main facility at Ben – Gurion international airport and “in many other sites around the world.”
Melamed added that IAI has completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) and now the conversion infrastructure is being built.
IAI’s Aviation Group is responsible for all of IAI’s manned aircraft, both civilian and military. The Group is one of the few vendors in the world who specialize in the conversion and certification of passenger airplanes into cargo configuration. Some of Aviation Groups’ customers include the world’s largest shipping companies, such as Amazon, DHL and UPS. GECAS is a subsidiary of General Electric (GE) and world leader aircraft leasing company.
Melamed said that during the last 40 years IAI’s accumulated a vast experience, and reputation in the conversion niche, which includes cargo conversions of Boeing 747, 767, 737NG and the classic 737 and placed us as a cargo conversion house and world leader. “The cargo conversion business grows year by year to the extensive demand for e-Commerce. The collaboration with GECAS, which started over 20 years ago, has already proved its worth in over 70 conversions. The current contract is another vote of trust on GECAS’ behalf, which we plan to undertake at the same level of quality and creditability.”
-The writer is an International Roving Correspondent of the publication