P2F conversion constrained by feedstock, certification issues

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By Judson Rollins

July 3, 2023, © Leeham News: As the supply chain chaos of the past two years finally winds down, the air cargo industry is trying to prepare for future growth.

IAI’s first 777 converted freighter, intended for Kalitta Air, has not flown since its initial testing flight on March 24. Source: IAI.

However, in an ironic twist, the industry’s near-to-intermediate term runway is constrained by some forces that propelled its supernormal profitability during the pandemic and recovery.

Thanks to growth in e-commerce, many industry observers revised their long-term growth forecasts upward. Cargo traffic growth estimates vary widely, from Cirium’s conservative 20-year expectation of 3.0% per year to Boeing’s optimistic call for 4.1% annually through 2042.

This year’s demand environment is less rosy as global trade falters, seaport backlogs have mostly cleared, shippers of high-value industrial goods suffer from microchip and other key commodity shortages, and recovering passenger airline service drives a glut of lower-deck “belly” capacity on most trade lanes.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently said it expects air cargo demand to fall by 3.8% and revenues to contract by one-third for the full year. Cargo volumes were already down 5.3% year-over-year through April, said IATA.


  • Express carriers are most exposed to short-term pain, but long-run prospects are brighter.
  • Non-express carriers continue to be hard hit by excess capacity.
  • Freighter conversion feedstock supply is tight.
  • 777 P2F conversion slowed by possible certification issues; Boeing poised to sell more 777Fs?

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Dr. Peters order for 777-300ER P2F pits Kansas Mod against IAI, Mammoth

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By Scott Hamilton

May 2, 2022, © Leeham News: Kansas Modification Center’s launch customer order for its Boeing 777-300ER freighter conversion pits the start-up against the established IAI Bedek and another start-up, Mammoth Freighters.

Christian Mailly (left) of Dr. Peters Group, a lessor, and Jim Gibbs, CEO of Kansas Modification Center. Source: Leeham News.

A fourth 777 P2F program, by the supplemental carrier Eastern Airlines, doesn’t involve a full freighter conversion with a cargo door.

Kansas Mod, or KMC, is paired with the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), which is the aerospace research arm of Wichita State University in Kansas. NIAR is paired with WERX, a WSU program that trains engineers. Together, this is known as NIAR WERX. This cumbersome combination will be referred to as KMC.

Jim Gibbs, the CEO of Kansas Modification Center, announced a firm order for three 777-300ER conversions and options for seven more last week at the Aviation Week MRO Americas exhibition in Dallas. Backbone Freighter Leasing, an affiliation of Dr. Peters Group, a European lessor, placed the order. The 10 aircraft were operated by Emirates Airline. Dr. Peters Group is best known as a lessor of Airbus A380s.

Christian Mailly of the Peters group said KMC said Backbone considered the IAI and Mammoth programs but developed a trust with KMC that gives confidence that the conversions can be delivered on time. The firm orders are scheduled for delivery in 2024-2025; options are slotted in for delivery in 2025, 2026, and 2027.

  • IAI Bedek launched in 2019, now has 22 orders and at least 15 options
  • Mammoth has two orders, three options
  • Kansas Mod has three orders, seven options

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