LONDON – ST Engineering’s commercial aviation business has secured a lease deal with the Vaayu Group for five Airbus A320 Passenger to Freighter (P2F) conversions, the company said on February 14.
Two of the aircraft have already found a home at a new operator, Astral Aviation based in Nairobi, Kenya, which will become the first carrier to operate the A320P2F.
ST Engineering performs the conversions at Seletar, from where the initial aircraft undertook its maiden flights on December 8. The first flight is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2022.
The aircraft is still pending approval by the EASA supplemental type certificate.
“We are excited to welcome Vaayu as our first A320P2F lessee customer, and for Astral Aviation to be the first airline in the world to operate such a platform,” said Yip Heng Meng, ST Engineering’s executive v-p and head of aviation asset management.
“As an aviation asset solution provider that is backed by other integrated life-cycle capabilities including freighter conversion and MRO, we are able to provide comprehensive solutions not offered by other service providers, and help operators gain a competitive edge.”
ST Engineering has partnered up with Airbus for the narrowbody F2P program through the joint venture Elbe Flugzeugwerke. The joint venture also offers F2P for the slightly longer A321 variant.
The first aircraft in its size class to provide easy-to-operate container loading for both upper and lower deck space, the A320P2F also offers best-in-class fuel-burn figures.
The plane can accommodate 10 ULDs on the lower deck. With a payload of more than 21 tons, it can fly over 1800 nautical miles, however, with a payload of 17 tons, it can fly up to 2560 nautical miles.
Key features of the P2F conversion include a main-deck port-side hydraulically-actuated cargo door measuring 142 by 85 inches that can lock electronically.
The Class E cargo compartment meets industry requirements fully, with features such as a 9-g rigid cargo barrier, lightweight cargo lining, manually-operated loading system, and reinforced floor panels and floor grid to cater for the higher running loads.