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A Lufthansa A330 in Dallas. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mateen Kontoravdis)

Lufthansa Group Moves Forward With Passenger-to-Freighter Conversions

Lufthansa Technik, the MRO division of Lufthansa Group, obtained approval from the German Federal Aviation Authority for an Engineering Order Specific Tailsign for four Airbus A330-300 passenger aircraft belonging to Lufthansa. These aircraft will be put to service in the cargo division of the German airline to transport medical products due to the increasing demand for cargo flights caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The transformation of each aircraft took 36 hours and a comprehensive technical documentation presentation was previously required.

“An aircraft that has been granted approval for the transport of passengers cannot simply carry cargo in the cabin since the approval criteria for passenger cabins and cargo compartments are completely different,” Lufthansa Technik representatives explained.

“For example, cargo has a different floor load, i.e. the structural load capacity of a passenger aircraft is lower than that of a cargo aircraft. While for passenger transport rescue routes must be kept clear and the oxygen supply must be ensured for each individual, special fire protection measures must be taken on board a freighter. All these criteria, and some additional points, must be taken into account and incorporated into the technical documentation by suitably qualified engineers,” they added.

Based on these experiences, Lufthansa Technik is progressing to obtain Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) for different families of aircraft, which will enable it to offer airlines worldwide a fast service of conversion of their aircraft from passengers to freighters. Currently, there are a few companies specialized on the matter: Bedek, a division of Israel Aeronautical Industries, is by far the most prolific one offering conversions for Boeing 737-700 and -800, 747-400, 767-300 and 777-300ER.

“We are working to have the complete technical documentation and certification available in a short time so that our client airlines can use the STC. The conversion itself should take a few days, ”said Henning Jochmann, Senior Director Aircraft Modification Base Maintenance at Lufthansa Technik.

“Airlines can react quickly to changing needs and keep costs down,” he concluded.

Pablo Diaz
Pablo Diaz
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