Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), the joint venture created by Airbus and ST Engineering, on Tuesday flew its A320P2F passenger-to-freighter conversion for the first time from ST’s facilities at Seletar Aerospace Park in Singapore. The flight followed an eight-month conversion process during which the JV added a main deck cargo door among several other modifications. The A320P2F complements EFW’s lineup of freighter-converted Airbus aircraft already in service today, namely the A321P2F, A330-300P2F, and A330-200P2F.
Over the next few weeks, MSN2737, originally a passenger-carrying A320-200, will prepare for its new life by undergoing a series of flight tests expected to culminate in the issuance of a supplemental type certificate by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Plans call for ST Engineering Aerospace Resources (STEAR), the aviation leasing arm of ST Engineering, to lease the aircraft to Vaayu Group, which expects to place it into service in 2022. Vaayu revealed last month that it will lease five A320P2Fs from STEAR.
Carrying a cargo capacity of 10 ULD containers plus one pallet position on the main deck and seven ULD containers on the lower deck, the A320P2F offers significantly more payload and containerized volume than its closest competitor, says EFW. The freighter offers the capacity to carry 21 tonnes of payload over 1,800 nm and up to 2,560 nm with 17 tonnes. EFW also says operators will benefit from the A320/321P2F’s fly-by-wire cockpit commonality with the A330 widebody family.
Along with a main deck cargo door on the left side of the forward fuselage, notable features of the A320P2F conversion include a 9G rigid cargo barrier, a lightweight cargo lining, a manually operated cargo loading system with the full support of industry-standard narrowbody ULDs, reinforced floor panels and floor grid to cater for higher running loads, and a Class-E cargo compartment.
According to Airbus’s most recent global market forecast, operators will need about 2,440 widebody and single-aisle freighters for growth and replacement over the next 20 years. Of that demand, converted single-aisle freighters will account for some 1,000 units.