For the project, ST Aerospace will lead A330P2F engineering development, working with Airbus and EADS EFW. EADS EFW will subsequently be responsible as program...

Airbus, ST Aerospace and EADS EFW have signed a memorandum of understanding for a strategic partnership to develop the A330 Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) conversion program.

The agreement, setting out the project’s foundation and granting “authorisation to offer” status for the A330P2F, was signed on February 15, 2012 by Chang Cheow Teck, president of ST Aerospace; Tom Enders, president and CEO of Airbus; and Andreas Sperl, CEO of EADS EFW, in the presence of Stanislaw Tillich, Prime Minister of Germany’s Federal State of Saxony.

For the project, ST Aerospace (which is the aerospace arm of ST Engineering) will lead A330P2F engineering development, working with Airbus and EADS EFW. EADS EFW will subsequently be responsible as program lead during the industrial phase, and will undertake most of the conversions at its facilities at Dresden Airport in Germany.

This is an artist's computer graphic image rendering of a Airbus A330-300 freighter which has been convrted from a passenger aircraft under the A330P2F program announced on February 15, 2012 and involving ST Aerospace, Airbus and EADS EFW

The agreement calls for EADS EFW to become the European center for ST Aerospace’s global maintenance, repair and overhaul operations. The project is subject to the definitive agreements being finalized in the coming weeks and also to regulatory clearances.

Airbus says the A330P2F program includes two versions – the A330-200P2F and the larger A330-300P2F. Of the two models, the larger A330-300P2F will be particularly suitable for integrators and express carriers thanks to its high volumetric payload capability with lower-density cargo, according to Airbus.

Complementing the larger aircraft will be the A330-200P2F, which will be optimized for higher-density freight and longer-range performance. Entry into service for the first A330-300P2F is targeted for 2016.

“Alongside our highly efficient A330-200F factory-built freighter, Airbus has always been committed to extending its freighter portfolio, and the A330P2F is the perfect next step to building the Airbus Freighter family,” said Enders.

“The aircraft industry has a long tradition in Dresden since the first German passenger jet was built there,” noted Tillich. “Following today’s agreement, I am very happy that the resulting A330 Passenger-to-Freighter conversion program will bring EADS EFW to a world-leading role in this industry sector, and it will also tighten the relationship between Saxony and Singapore.”

Most of the initial candidates for the Airbus A330-300 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion program are likely to be early-build aircraft delivered in the first half of the 1990s to French and Asian carriers and featuring maximum take-off weights of only 215 tonnes. Later-model A330-300s have maximum take-off weights of up to 235 tonnes, making them much more flexible for passenger operations in terms of range and payload capability

Airbus forecasts that approximately 2,700 freighters will be required over the next 20 years and around half of these will be in the mid-sized freighter segment, including 900 conversions from passenger aircraft.

As well as complementing the factory-built Airbus A330-200F in service today, the A330P2F freighter conversion program will also enhance and sustain A330 family residual values by extending the economic lives of A330 airframes, according to Airbus.

The Airbus A330 family includes passenger, freighter, VIP and Military Transport/Tanker variants and has now attracted orders for approximately 1,200 aircraft.

Today the A330 fleet has accumulated over 20 million flight hours and almost five million revenue flights. More than 830 A330s are now in service with over 90 operators, achieving average dispatch reliability above 99 percent.

ST Aerospace says it is the world’s largest aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider.

According to Airbus, the A330-300P2F (a freighter converted from a passenger aircraft) will be ideal for the low-weight-density, high-volume operations of cargo "integrators" such as FedEx Express and UPS, or express airfreight carriers such as DHL Cargo

This is a claim that might be disputed by a few other organizations such as Lufthansa Technik, Mubadala Aerospace, American Airlines and –  particularly – the U.S. Air Force Materiel Command’s Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center and other MRO operations at Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City. Together the Tinker AFB logistics and MRO operations employ 28,000 people.

ST Aerospace has a global customer base that includes leading airlines, airfreight and military operators. The company offers a full range of MRO services, among them airframe, engine and component maintenance, repair and overhaul; engineering design and technical services; and aviation materials and management services. ST Aerospace has a global staff strength of more than 8,000 engineers and technical specialists.

At its Dresden base, EADS EFW combines various aviation and technology activities under a single roof, including the conversion of passenger aircraft into freighter configuration, maintenance and repair of Airbus aircraft and various engineering services.

As of today, EADS EFW has converted more than 170 freighter aircraft for 39 customers globally. Today’s EFW portfolio also includes the A300-600P2F and A310P2F.