Converted A321 cargo aircraft receives certification


A321 aircraft retired from carrying passengers will soon be returning to service as cargo aircraft after the European Aviation Safety Agency granted the converted version of the airplane a supplement type certificate.

The A321 Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) conversion program is being run by a joint venture between Singapore-based ST Engineering and Airbus called Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), which is located at Dresden Airport in Germany and employs around 1,450 people.

The Supplement Type Certification (STC) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the A321P2F comes one month after the prototype unit made its maiden flight test on 22 January at

That first prototype aircraft is expected to enter into service with launch customer Vallair in between September and November this year. The Luxembourg-based aircraft trading and leasing business has ordered 10 converted A321s from EFW.

Lim Serh Ghee, president of ST Engineering’s Aerospace sector, said, “The swift process in attaining EASA’s STC shortly after our first flight test is a testament to the engineering and design strengths of our P2F solution. With this STC, we have added another first in the world to our family of Airbus P2F platforms, to provide a wide array of attractive and proven solutions for the air cargo industry.”

“EFW is the centre of excellence for Airbus freighter conversions, with more than 20 years of experience and over 200 widebody converted freighters delivered to over 40 customers worldwide,” said Andreas Sperl, CEO of EFW. “We are glad to now add an additional member to our Airbus freighter family with the A321P2F, which complements our A330P2F as another best-in-class volumetric freighter.

“The A321P2F offers other unique advantages such as having the lowest operational cost and fully containerised upper and lower deck, making it an ideal replacement for the ageing Boeing 757 converted freighter.”

The A321P2F program was launched in 2015 and uses Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) data and certification support from Airbus. ST Engineering is responsible for the engineering development phase, up to obtaining the STC from EASA and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, while EFW is leading the overall program as well as marketing and sales. As the STC holder, EFW is also responsible for the adaption engineering in the serial phase as well as for customer services and support.

The A321P2F offers containerised loading in both the main deck of up to 14 full container positions and lower deck  of up to 10 container positions. The aircraft has a payload-range capability that can carry up to 27.9 metric tons over 2,300 nautical miles.

Andreas Hermann, Airbus’ vice president, asset management said, “It is great to celebrate yet another milestone with our long-standing partners, ST Engineering and EFW for the A321P2F program, which bears testament to the strong co-operation and commitment in this freighter conversion venture.”

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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