Israel Aerospace Industries’ Aviation Group is marking a significant milestone in the process of converting the first Boeing B777-300ER aircraft, cutting an opening in the hull to install a cargo door. The part of the cabin removed from the aircraft is 7 meters long and a third of the aircraft’s circumference.
This important milestone comes shortly after the beginning of the aircraft’s structural modification, a process that will take approximately 130 days, at the end of which the passenger aircraft will be converted into a cargo aircraft.
The process of converting the aircraft from passenger to freighter configuration, and especially the step of cutting a large segment of the aircraft’s hull, is a testament to IAI’s decades-long aviation experience and engineering capabilities being among the most advanced in the world. Carrying out the cargo conversion with high quality and capability ensures an optimal solution for customers and secures the future of cargo conversions for the company.
The cargo conversion process includes modifying the aircraft structure, including the installation of a new cargo door, replacing and reinforcing the cabin floor, installing reinforcements in the cargo door area and adapting the electric network and other systems to enable a safe and convenient operation. In addition, this process includes receiving certification for the converted aircraft from the Civilian Aviation Authority and the US’ Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“Completing the B777-300ER conversion on time and according to the planned schedule is at the top of the Aviation Group’s priorities. Today, we mark an exciting step in the prototype’s conversion,” said Executive VP and General Manager of IAI’s Aviation Group, Yossi Melamed. “Cutting the aircraft’s haul for the new cargo door is a prime example, reflective of the cargo conversions at IAI, which significantly advances our development process for this conversion. This step will allow us, in the near future and with increased confidence, to establish more conversion lines all over the world in order to provide services to the dozens of existing orders and to many more expected orders to come.”
Over the past few years, there has been an increase in demand for cargo planes due to a global rise in e-commerce, which has peaked during the COVID-19 pandemic. IAI’s leading clients include the likes of Amazon, DHL and UPS.