Freight Airbus develops modification for widebody cargo transformation

Airbus has announced it is working on a new solution to modify widebody cabins from passenger to cargo conversion.

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The manufacturer is currently developing a modification for Airbus A330 and A350 XWB widebody aircraft, which allows airlines to easily convert their passenger aircraft into pure cargo aircraft. This solution could help in the fight against COVID-19.

For the pure eco variant, all economy class seats will be removed and replaced by freight pallets which are directly attached to the cabin floor seat racks. It enables airlines to continue their business by operating freight services instead of passenger flights.

Also, this solution would alleviate the global shortage of “belly-freight” air cargo capacity due to the widespread grounding of widebody aircraft. Many airlines around the world had to ground their entire fleet as government travel restrictions are in place to reduce the spread of Coronavirus.

Furthermore, the opportunity for airlines to easily convert their widebody aircraft would help the whole industry to address the high demand for humanitarian flights around the world. Currently, freight airlines are bringing medical supplies across the globe to fight the pandemic.

Regarding its solution, Airbus explained: "Compared with loading cargo onto seats, this Airbus solution facilitates easier and quicker loading and unloading operations, as well as reduced ‘wear & tear’ to the seats themselves. Other important benefits include the added security of robust fire protection, and the 9g load restraint capability to prevent anything from shifting in flight."

Airbus is currently working on a one-time certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency EASA. The modification would be available for operators as an Airbus Service Bulleting (SB). Under this circumstance, Airbus defines the engineering work scope and also manages the process of certification.

"Its scope includes the removal of the seats & IFE (Inflight entertainment), installation of cargo pallets and associated safety equipment – and also the re-installation of the original passenger cabin elements for reverting back to passenger operations. The SB approach will also be valid beyond the COVID-19 pandemic," the manufacturer wrote.

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