By Scott Hamilton
Sept. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: An 8-year-old Airbus A330-300 was converted recently from passenger to freighter configuration by EFW.
Actually, says EFW’s Wolfgang Schmid, the airplane is not quite eight. It is the youngest A333 to be converted.
I can’t remember an airplane of any type this young being converted from passenger to freighter. The market value of an eight-year-old aircraft is way too high. Operating economics are well within airline requirements at this age. Aircraft historically become conversion candidates no sooner than 15 years of age and more commonly not before 20.
There have been rare cases of younger aircraft going to the scrapyard. The Airbus A318 and more recently the A380 are two examples in which aircraft around 12 years old have no secondary market.
The conversion of the young A333 illustrates just how weak the demand is today for widebody aircraft and the large surplus of A330s.
EFW has orders for more than 100 P2F conversions for the A330-200 and -300. The orders are heavily weighted toward the -300. ST Aerospace and Airbus own EFW with a 55%-45% shareholding split.
There are conversion lines in Germany, Singapore and China. A line will be opened next year in Mobile (AL), where Airbus has final assembly lines for the A320 and A220. Mobile was also where Airbus intended to open an FAL for the A330/KC-45 US Air Force refueling tanker had it won the contract. Airbus and Lockheed Martin (LMT) partnered to bid on the USAF’s new KC-Y contract, expected to be awarded in 2023. LMT is the lead in this bid and hasn’t selected an FAL site.
EFW will deliver 13 A330Fs in 2022, 23 the following year and 30 in each of 2024 and 2025. The production line is full through 2025.
EFW is also the top-producing conversion company for A321s. 321 Conversions, a joint venture between Precision Aircraft Solutions and cargo airplane lessor ATSG, is the other operating company in production. There are one or two others developing conversion programs.
Four A321s have been converted by EFW. Six will be delivered this year, 21 next year, and 28, 29 and 31 through 2025. EFW also is converting the first of three A320s being converted for one customer.