| Following the A321P2F (Passenger to Freighter) led by Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) with ST Engineering and Airbus, a new freighter conversion program concerning the Airbus A321 has just materialized in the United States to tackle the market of the 757F.
The A321-200PCF Freighter of 321 Precision Conversions, a joint venture founded in 2017 by U.S. companies Aircraft Transport Services Group (ATSG) and Precision Aircraft Solutions (PAS) first flew on October 10. The aircraft (MSN 891, N322WS, ex-Swissair, Swiss and Air Méditerranée, CFM56-5B) was performing a check flight after its conversion at Avocet MRO facility in Orlando-Sanford (Florida).
According to Gary Warner, the president of PAS and 321 Precision Conversions, "This milestone flight was nominal in all respects, with all primary and secondary systems- including the cargo door and supporting sub-systems, functioning perfectly as designed." The new converted aircraft will now be able to begin its test campaign to receive its STC in the United States next year, with validations from EASA and CAAC also expected.
As for the version of its competitor at EFW, the A321-200PCF will be able to carry 14 standard ULDs on its main deck, as well as 10 LD3-45 in the hold, for a maximum payload of 27 tonnes. It is therefore also positioning itself on the Boeing 757-200F market, a market that Precision Aircraft Solutions has known very well since the mid-2000s.
Note that unlike the A321P2F, the A321-200PCF has not undergone any particular modification to the doors at the front or the rear of the aircraft. Full size L1/R1 doors are remaining.
As a reminder, just before the outbreak of the pandemic, Airbus estimated at a thousand the number of narrow-body aircraft to be converted to meet the market demand over the next 20 years.
EFW, for its part, revealed in July that its conversion capacities would gradually increase to reach up to 23 slots per year by 2023, with the creation of new A321P2F conversion lines for China and the U.S., as well as in Dresden/Germany.