Mammoth Freighters invests in aerospace company to launch 777 conversions
Start-up builder Mammoth Freighters LLC on Wednesday announced a joint venture with GDC Technics, a leading widebody maintenance and overhaul organization based at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, to support its nascent program conversion of Boeing 777 passenger planes into cargo planes.
Investing in an aerospace company gives Mammoth immediate access to production capacity at a time when conversion shops around the world are busy for months and years due to the growing demand for all-cargo aircraft.
Mammoth quickly became a serious player in the conversion market with backing from New York-based private equity firm Fortress Investment Group, which funded the GDC deal and also enabled Mammoth to purchase 10,777- 200 Long Range at Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL). Delta retired its fleet of 777s last year.
The engineering house will also adapt the 777-300 to freight configurations. Mammoth has a unique hybrid business model that allows asset owners to deliver their own aircraft for conversion or hire converted freighters ready to fly from Mammoth’s existing raw material. Most conversion companies simply perform conversions on behalf of leasing companies or aircraft operators who want to give their passenger aircraft a second life in the freight industry.
GDC Technics operates out of a former American Airlines maintenance facility with 840,000 square feet of space, six widebody hangars and overhead cranes for modification and maintenance work.
Mammoth, which designs the structural changes and works with regulators to certify the changes, will set up its offices at the GDC site, Brian McCarthy, vice president of marketing and sales, said in an interview earlier this month. GDC will perform metal cutting and modification using Mammoth conversion kits.
âBy partnering with GDC, our Mammoth 777-200LR and -300ER cargo conversion and support initiative will be located in the mid-US in a facility designed specifically for 777-200 / 300 aircraft and with a hand- skilled labor in place, âsaid Mammoth co. – CEO Bill Tarpley said in a statement.
A typical production line is capable of producing around four airplanes per year. With six lines, Mammoth plans to produce 24 freighters annually.
The aircraft renovator says it expects to gain Federal Aviation Administration design approval for the 777-200 in the second half of 2023, after which it will submit an amended request for an additional 777-300 certificate for the operation of the aircraft type.
Overhauling an airliner so that it can safely carry heavy cargo containers on the main deck requires extensive engineering design work. The actual production consists of covering the windows; the addition of a large cargo door in the fuselage; remove seats, luggage compartments and toilets; reinforce the sub-floor; and the installation of cargo handling systems and moving floors for easy maneuvering of pallets and containers.
Mammoth publicly announced its new business earlier this month. Its outlook is good due to a surplus of $ 777 created by passenger airlines downsizing and modernizing their fleets, allowing investors to buy used planes at a discount.
Air cargo capacity is down about 15% from pre-COVID times due to reduced passenger flights, while cross-border demand for consumer and manufactured goods, pharmaceuticals and food products continues to increase. Increased business interest in air travel is being driven by the relentless growth of e-commerce, which relies on airplanes for rapid delivery. Freight airlines and logistics companies use all available cargo ships, but the growth of the global fleet is a slow process.
The only remaining production freighter is the 777 and Boeing (NYSE: BA) will stop manufacturing planes later this decade due to rising international emissions standards. Most, if not all, of these slots are reserved, with integrators like DHL Express and FedEx supporting many of these deliveries.
Mammoth will compete in the 777 conversion market with Israel Aircraft Industries and GE Capital Aviation Services, which plan to deliver their first aircraft in 2023.
Boeing is also ending production of the 747-8 freighter, and no one is converting the four-engine wide-body aircraft for freight anymore. Meanwhile, Boeing’s next-generation aircraft, the 777X, is still under development and a potential cargo variant is still uncertain.
Airbus announced this year that it will develop a cargo version of its large A350, but it will be years before the plane is ready for sale. Airbus A330-300 conversions are starting to pick up speed after a slow start.
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