Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Ascent Aviation Services (Ascent) have signed a long-term agreement to establish a conversion site and carry out passenger-to-freighter conversions on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
As part of the agreement signed on September 22, IAI says it plans to have Ascent convert two lines of Boeing B777-300ER aircraft, starting in 2024 in Ascent’s facilities located in Marana, Arizona, US.
To support the programme, Ascent will build two new widebody hangars with pre-construction work having already commenced.
Work is expected to be completed on both hangars prior to aircraft induction.
IAI’s Aviation Group recently successfully completed the first test flight of a B777-300ERSF after it underwent passenger-to-cargo conversion – the first of its kind in the world.
IAI is also in the final stages of the certification process, with IAI expected to receive the STC from CAAI and FAA within 2023.
Establishing passenger-to-freighter conversion remote sites around the world is required due to the expected demand for widebody freighter aircraft capable of long-haul flights, such as the B777-300ER, which after conversion will be able to carry payloads of up to 100 tonnes.
According to analysts’ reports, the combination of these capabilities, with the significant fuel savings that the aircraft will permit – will make it one of the most popular freighter aircraft in the world.
The 777-300ER will join IAI’s family of converted aircraft, which today includes the Boeing 747, 767 and 737 NG and A330-300 under development.
Boaz Levy, IAI’s president and chief executive, said: “The advanced capabilities and efficient solutions which IAI offers its customers, provide the solution having the best value available in the market, supporting the growing demand for cargo aircraft around the world.
“Today’s signing of the agreement with Ascent represents a strong direct continuation of the many successful collaboration agreements already existing between IAI and US companies.
“IAI’s Conversions and Upgrades Business Line, Aviation Group, underscores the confidence that the company has in Ascent Aviation Services’ ability to set up a conversion site within the required timetable, and next year to carry out the first conversion.”
David Querio, president and chief executive of Ascent Aviation Services, said: “Ascent is excited to embark on this long-term partnership with IAI over the course of this 15-year agreement.
“We look forward to getting started on our hangar buildout and bringing dozens of aircraft to Arizona to support the maintenance and modification services required.
“This long-term collaboration agreement will bring lasting growth to the Tucson aviation community. With this expansion, we will expand our footprint in Marana to hangar up to three widebody aircraft, bring hundreds of new high-skilled jobs to the region and continue to provide our team members continued growth and stability.
“This additional diversification of our offerings continues Ascent down our journey to become the world-class MRO of choice for our customers.”