European Aviation is planning to convert up to ten A340s into freighters by the end of this year, founder Paul Stoddart has told FlightGlobal. Thus far, the UK-based aircraft broker and lessor has converted at least three A340-600s, 9H-NHS (msn 736), 9H-EAL (msn 622), and 9H-PPE (msn 787), into makeshift freighters with Malta’s Maleth-Aero (DB, Malta Int’l) their operator. All three are used to ferry personal protective equipment from Asia to the UK.
Speaking to FlightGlobal, Stoddart said European Aviation believes cargo will continue to be an under-served market and therefore plans to reconfigure up to ten A340s into freighters by the end of the year.
In the longterm, Stoddart European Aviation wants to convert passenger A340s into freighters permanently. It will apply for the requisite supplemental type certificate, which it hopes to have by the end of September. While fire suppression equipment will be required in the main cabin, no large side loading door will be installed as, according to Stoddart, European Aviation has managed to develop a loading process using its existing doors wherein a conveyor ramp and an onboard roller system are used for the upper deck. As such, the loading/unloading process has been reduced to just four hours.
So far, European Aviation’s A340s have been plying flights using cabins whose seats have been completely removed. Cargo, however, has been limited to lightweight packages under a temporary exemption from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Stoddart said that with fuel prices at historical lows, the A340-600’s cost-effectiveness as a makeshift freighter has soared given its extended range as well as its ability to haul 40,000 kilogrammes of freight in its passenger cabin as well as 52,000 kilogrammes (equivalent to 14 PMC containers) in its bellyhold.