The first A321 freighter converted by ST Engineering-Airbus joint venture Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) has entered service with Qantas for Australia Post.
The ‘head of version’ converted cargo aircraft started flights for Qantas on 27 October after it was re-delivered to owner and lessor Vallair back in September.
“Both milestones marked the completion and birth of the world’s first A321 converted freighter,” said a press release.
Jeffrey Lam, president of ST Engineering’s Aerospace division, said, “The completion of our first A321P2F is timely, as the programme can help airlines breathe new life into underutilised aircraft, which would otherwise suffer a harder landing in their residual value.”
“Having 55 percent more volumetric capacity than its nearest competitor, we are confident that the programme will be a great success in the freighter market,” Lam noted.
“The Airbus A321 is the platform which, by design, will offer the best economics, cargo capacity and performance in the single-aisle freighter segment going forward,” noted Andreas Hermann, vice president of asset management at Airbus and member of the EFW shareholder committee.
EFW had received the original supplemental type certificate (STC) for the A321P2F from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in February this year, and the validation STC from the US Federal Aviation Administration in July.
Operator-specific enhancements were subsequently incorporated into the freighter and certified prior to its re-delivery.
The A321P2F is the first in its size category to offer containerised loading in both the main (up to 14 full container positions) and lower deck (up to 10 container positions).
Its payload can carry above 28 metric tonnes (roughly 60,000 pounds) over 2,300 nautical miles, which makes it ideal for express domestic and regional operations.
ST Engineering, Airbus and EFW said they have the only OEM solution for A321P2F in the market. And both ST Engineering and EFW are planning to set up other modification sites in China, Germany and the US by 2023 to meet with rising demand for dedicated cargo aircraft, estimating about 25 slots per year.
“Given the outstanding performance of this freighter, we are confident that the A321P2F will be a game changer in the freighter market,” said Andreas Sperl, CEO of EFW.