Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has begun the structural modification phase in the conversion of its first 777-300ERSF, in partnership with GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).
IAI said the beginning of the conversion marked the end of the development process and the start of the structural and systems modification phase. The conversion process will take approximately 130 days, it said, at the end of which the passenger aircraft will be turned into a freighter aircraft.
The passenger-to-freighter conversion includes changing the structure, which involves installing a new cargo door, replacing and strengthening the aircraft floor, installing reinforcements near the cargo opening, and modifying electrical systems to enable safe and convenient operation, IAI said.
In addition, the process will include receiving certification for the converted aircraft by the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), among others.
“Two years ago, we took our first steps on the courageous journey of the cooperation agreement to convert the 777-300ERSF aircraft,” said IAI’s Aviation Group executive VP Yossi Melamed (pictured below). “Over the course of these past two years, we have invested thousands of hours coupled with engineering and logistical efforts, in order to reach this moment in accordance with the original schedule.
“We are beginning the structural modification phase of the conversion. The demand for converting the 777 aircraft is high, and I expect that the open spots for conversions will be quickly filled. Since IAI does not have wide competition in the field of passenger to freight conversions, we expect to receive over 50 aircraft that will undergo conversion. I would like to thank GECAS for believing in IAI’s abilities and vision, and to our suppliers for the support and assistance during this process.”
GECAS Cargo’s SVP & manager Rich Greener commented: “This milestone represents GECAS’ foresight and dedication to the air cargo market. This is a very well thought out and credible program combining GECAS’ and IAI’s experience in developing a very efficient freighter to meet the current and future air cargo requirements.”