Low-cost A330-300 E-Class freighter conversion revealed
Airbus A330 freighter conversions are proving popular as airlines use the aircraft to expand into new markets and fly longer routes, exploiting its capabilities and fuel efficiency. However, this popularity has created a waiting list, which can be five years or more in some cases. As a more immediate option, Vallair has released details of what it says is the first E-Class widebody freighter conversion capability, an option designed to fill the gap while operators wait for freighter conversion slots. complete.
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The conversion method, which will be undertaken at Vallair’s new hangar in Châteauroux, France, is the result of a joint investment between Vallair and UUDS, a Part 21 certified cabin modification specialist in France. EASA approval using a supplemental type certificate is expected within the next two months.
Grégoire Lebigot, Founder, President and CEO of Vallair, explains the conversion: “Transforming the upper deck of the Airbus A330-300 into a cargo area without installing the large cargo door means that the conversion cost will only be a quarter of the cost compared to a transformation with [a door]. The turnaround time will be around a month instead of six – so the benefits are obvious.
Conversion to Class E means that loading is not done on pallets or containers, but using a conveyor that fits inside the hold to load and distribute individual packages. This method speeds up the process and significantly reduces turnaround times, according to Vallair. The company believes the industry will see this as a sustainable option that will allow its aviation assets to fly longer.
“This solution responds to current market needs and increases the value of the asset because it is fully reversible in the event of market changes,” added Lebigot. “The aircraft can easily be converted back to a PAX configuration, or converted to a freighter with a large cargo door in the future. This is an alternative complementary solution to the traditional freighter conversion, not a replacement. »
Gilles Negre, Founder and CEO of UUDS, explained the importance of the reversible design: “Flexibility in aircraft cabin and cargo configuration has always been a key factor for the success of flight operations and the revenue optimization. Our quick-change, reversible solution brings this versatility to operators and gives them additional options for generating revenue. It also offers lessors alternative solutions to increase the use and lifespan of their aircraft. Return on investment is improved and asset value is increased. »
Vallair’s new hangar in Châteauroux is a key part of the A330-300 E class conversion service. The hangar can accommodate two A330 aircraft, or one Airbus A330 and up to three Airbus A321s at a time, meaning Vallair now has the capability to perform both jumbo and narrow-bodied maintenance, with additional on-site services including maintenance, painting, engine shop, aerostructure repairs, conversion, stripping and support of components.
Vallair has already secured customers, with the first two Airbus A330-300s managed by Deucalion Aviation already in Chateauroux awaiting scheduled conversions to Class E, which will create around 60 tonnes of payload and a range of around 4,200nm.
Jonathan Skirrow, Co-CEO and COO of Deucalion Aviation, said: “The market outlook for wide-body cargo aircraft provides opportunities for proven platforms such as the mid-life Airbus A330s to continue their operations for many years to come.
France-based Regio Lease is the associated Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO) partner, while Deucalion Aviation is the asset manager for the first two aircraft to be converted to the E-class configuration.
“Alongside our partners, UUDS, Deucalion Aviation Limited and Regio Lease, we are in the process of creating an Airbus A330 Center of Excellence in the heart of France,” said Lebigot.