Vallair has seen its prototype A321P2F (MSN835) aircraft take off in Singapore. The inaugural flight forms part of the certification process to reach conversion Approval status. Vallair has placed this first A321P2F (Passenger to Freighter) aircraft conversion with Qantas, the first airline in the world to operate the A321 as a freighter aircraft. The A321P2F will add nearly 50 percent more capacity compared to the existing fleet and is due to be delivered in July 2020.
Gregoire Lebigot, president and CEO at Vallair, foresees a growing demand. “The A321P2F will be the first aircraft to introduce a containerised lower deck to the market segment of narrowbody freighters; a significant game-changer for any hub and spoke operation,” Lebigot says. “We see a huge potential for this aircraft as a key tool for the cargo industry to achieve the projected growth rate of the air freight market in general, particularly express services and e-commerce. Additionally, the substantial fuel efficiency advantages are well-suited to 1-4 hour flight legs.”
The aircraft development was co-ordinated by freighter design and conversion house EFW (a joint venture between ST Aerospace and Airbus) and the project has taken close to two years to transition from prototype to in-service aircraft. “We have invested in a fleet of feed-stock A321 aircraft and our team continues to work with exceptional dedication to bring this programme to fruition,” Lebigot adds. “We anticipate that a mature production line for conversion will settle at around 4 months and we already in negotiation with other airlines and operator/lessees, keen to upgrade their freighter fleets.”