A handful of markets show signs of recovery for passenger traffic. But airlines typically focused on long-haul international service are nowhere close to calling it a recovery. With air cargo capacity still depressed around the globe Finnair is the latest to add more cargo capacity to its operations, bringing a temporary conversion online for its A330s in partnership with Airbus and Lufthansa Technik.
This new solution combines Airbus’ experience as an aircraft OEM with Lufthansa Technik’s expertise in managing STCs and aircraft upgrades. In these times of reduced passenger traffic, our customers are looking for quick solutions to temporarily increase cargo transportation capacity in the cabin.– Daniel Wenninger, Head of Airframe Services at Airbus
Like similar efforts from other suppliers and other airlines, the goal is a quick conversion with minimal impact to the operating fleet or the ability to transition back to carrying passengers in the future. To that end the Lufthansa Technik/Airbus solution involves a mix of standard equipment on the main deck of the A330s to increase capacity by as much as 15t and 86m3.
The procedure consists of first removing the seats and then installing industry standard “PKC” pallets and nets on the main deck. Cargo will still be loaded manually and secured under the netting, but the semi-fixed positioning helps airlines with weight-and-balance challenges as well as ensuring the necessary access around the cargo for fire safety concerns.
Under the agreement LHT owns the STC and will provide the modification kits for customers. Airbus’ role as the OEM includes providing technical data, engineering validations and operational calculations.
“We join forces with Airbus in times of crisis to deliver the best solution for aircraft operators. We mutually benefit from each other’s expertise in many respects and thus create a blueprint for possible future co-operations,” says Soeren Stark, Chief Operations Officer & Accountable Manager at Lufthansa Technik.
This new solution offers a volumetric cargo capacity of around 78m3 on the main deck of an A330-200 with 12 PKC pallet positions and 18 nets. Meanwhile, the A330-300’s main deck cargo capacity will be around 86m3 with 15 PKC pallet positions and 19 nets.
KLM similarly is adding cargo capacity on board, but without removing the seats. The company has a new Cargo Seat Bag that slips over the seats on board to increase carrying capacity on its 777s.
Expect to see these temporary measures in place for a year or more as the airlines await a recovery in the long-haul markets.
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