Development work for the transition of A320 Family passenger aircraft to freighters is progressing in a multi-national effort that targets the first aircraft's conversion process in 2011.
The P2F (passenger-to-freighter) versions of Airbus' A320 and A321 will provide a modern solution for the small freighter market segment, offering highly capable cargo aircraft for the growing express cargo market worldwide.
Development of the A320/A321P2F conversion is managed by the Airbus Freighter Conversion (AFC) joint venture, located in the German city of Dresden. Germany's EADS EFW and Airbus hold a combined 50 per cent of AFC, while Russian aerospace holding UAC (United Aircraft Corporation) and the Irkut Russian aerospace corporation each hold 25 per cent shares.
Since last summer, a team that includes 80 Irkut engineers has been developing a conversion solutionâ€š starting with the A320 version. Airbus engineers are supporting this teamâ€š familiarising the members with European aviation regulations, as well as Airbus' way of working.
Irkut and EADS EFW are responsible for the P2F conversion's detailed designâ€š while Airbus is handling the non-specific design aspectsâ€š as well as design validation and certification.
Changes required for the A320/A321 passenger-to-freighter transition include the installation of a large cargo door on the aft fuselage, and reinforcement of the cabin floor. In addition, a cargo loading system is incorporated, and cockpit systems are modified.
These updates are being developed using 3D tools, as well as the fuselage of a former Air France A320 that allows the changes to be validated with real hardware.
In their new P2F configuration, the A320/A321 freighters will be able to carry from 21 to 28 metric tonnes of payload, operating over ranges up to 2,100 naut. mi./3,700 km.
The conversion's launch customer is Aer Cap, which signed a firm contract last July to convert 30 of the Netherlands-based leasing companyâ€™s A320/A321s into freighters.