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In light of a sudden surge for additional cargo capacity, more and more operators are modifying cabins of their passenger aircraft to cargo. Currently, Lufthansa Technic revealed working on the first Airbus A380 to make it ready for carrying freight.
The German technical aircraft services provider said that it has received inquiries from more than 40 airlines and is currently working on over 15 projects for different aircraft types. Meanwhile, the A380 is a special project prepared for an undisclosed customer.
No passenger aircraft can be simply converted to cargo; each change needs to be thoroughly worked out and approved by a regulatory body.
There are a lot of details that should be taken into account when modifying smaller aircraft such as A320 or Boeing 737. And imagine how complicated it should be to make the conversion for a double-deck airliner.
“As the workscope comprises much more than just taking out seats, you need engineering experts who know exactly what the challenges are and how to document the technical solutions so correctly that the aviation authorities agree”, said Henning Jochmann, Senior Director Aircraft Modification Base Maintenance at Lufthansa Technik.
Therefore, modifications from passenger aircraft to cargo are complicated in terms of both technical and administrative/regulatory aspects.
Now Lufthansa Technic is putting all the efforts to secure Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for “all common aircraft types so that airlines all over the world can quickly convert their passenger aircraft into auxiliary freighters”.
After launching a passenger Airbus A380, Airbus also offered the freighter version. However, due to a low demand the program was closed and this way no A380 cargo plane saw the light of day.
For this reason, modification of the first Airbus A380 jet for cargo operations would become a very special achievement providing the operator with great amount of spare cargo capacity.