Aircraft lessor and mature asset specialist Vallair has unveiled the first-ever E Class widebody freighter conversion capability for the Airbus A330-300 at its brand new state-of-the-art mega hangar in Châteauroux, France.
This innovative cargo solution is the result of a joint investment between France-based companies Vallair and UUDS, which is Part 21 certified. The company said it is designed to bridge the gap while operators currently wait 5 years or more for full freighter conversion slots.
Reversible, reconfigurable, fast and low-cost
Grégoire Lebigot, Founder, President & CEO of Vallair, explains the importance of the programme and what it means for operators, particularly those involved with e-commerce.
“Innovation is and has always been integral to Vallair’s DNA. Turning the Airbus A330-300 upper deck into a cargo area without installing the large cargo door means that the conversion cost will be just a quarter of the cost compared to a conversion with one.
Turnaround time will be just around one month instead of six – so the benefits are clear to see. Also, it is the very first “made in France” cargo conversion programme for a widebody aircraft, and Vallair is proud to spearhead this efficient, industry-leading process as part of its re-industrialisation of aviation in the region.”
Vallair’s E Class solution means that loading is not done on pallets or containers but uses a conveyor that fits inside the cargo hold to efficiently load and distribute individual parcels instead. This proven concept expedites the process and reduces turnaround times considerably.
“This solution addresses current market needs and increases the value of the asset because it is completely reversible should the market change” adds Lebigot.
“The aircraft can easily be converted back to PAX configuration, or transformed into a freighter with a large cargo door in future. It is a complementary alternative solution to the traditional freighter conversion, not a replacement.”
Vallair believes that the industry will view this as a sustainable option that will keep the assets flying for longer. EASA approval using a Supplemental Type Certificate is expected within the next two months.
Gilles Negre, Founder & CEO of UUDS explains the importance of reversible design, “Flexibility in aircraft cabin and cargo configuration has always been a key factor for successful aviation operations and revenue optimisation. Our quick change and reversible solution brings this versatility to operators and gives them additional revenue generating options. It also offers lessors alternative solutions to boost their aircraft utilisation and life expectancy. Return-on-investment is improved and asset value is increased.”
One-stop hangar of excellence
Vallair’s new hangar in Châteauroux is an important catalyst for the Airbus A330-300 E Class conversion. The hangar itself can accommodate two Airbus A330 aircraft, or one Airbus A330 and up to three Airbus A321s at any one time, which means that Vallair now has the ability to perform both wide and narrowbody maintenance, and offer a ‘Swiss knife’ approach with tailored solutions using all of its capabilities on site. This includes maintenance, paint, engine shop, aerostructure repairs, conversion, teardown and component support.
Airbus A330 cargo conversions have become extremely popular as airlines are using the aircraft to expand into new markets and fly longer routes.
The first two Airbus A330-300 aircraft, managed by Deucalion Aviation Limited, are already in Châteauroux and scheduled to undertake the E Class conversion at Vallair which will offer around 60 tonnes of payload and a range of approximately 4,200nm.
France-based Regio Lease is the associated CAMO partner, while Deucalion Aviation Limited is the asset manager of the first two aircraft to be converted into E-class configuration. These recognised experts reinforce the credibility and practicality of the E Class conversion.
“Alongside our partners, UUDS, Deucalion Aviation Limited and Regio Lease, we’re now on our way to creating an Airbus A330 centre of excellence in the heart of France” concludes Lebigot.