Air Canada is reconfiguring passenger cabins on three of its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to transport cargo, including critical medical supplies.

The first aircraft conversion is already complete and is now in service, with the second and third aircraft to be completed shortly.

“Bringing critical medical and other vital supplies rapidly to Canada and helping distribute them across the country is imperative to combating the COVID-19 crisis,” said Tim Strauss, Vice President of Cargo at Air Canada.

Highlighting that the reconfigured aircraft can carry 89.63 tonnes, the equivalent of up to 9 million medical masks, Strauss added: “The transformation of the Boieng 777-300ERs, our largest international wide-body aircraft, doubles the capacity of each flight and will enable more goods to move more quickly.”

Aircraft maintenance and cabin integration specialist, Avianor, has been tasked with converting the three Boeing aircraft. The Montreal-Mirabel based company has developed a specific engineering solution to remove 422 passenger seats and designate cargo loading zones for light weight boxes containing medical equipment which are restrained with cargo nets.

Referencing how this process was developed, produced and implemented within six days, Richard Steer, SVP Air Canada Operations, said: “The rapid transformation of our aircraft to meet cargo demand reflects our ability to maximise our fleet assets quickly when these aircraft would otherwise be parked. Air Canada’s engineering team worked around the clock to oversee the conversion work, and with Transport Canada to ensure all work was certified as tasks were completed.”

The Canadian carrier has been using aircraft that would otherwise be parked to operate cargo-only flights, moving in their baggage holds time-sensitive shipments, including urgent medical supplies and goods to support the global economy.

Since 22 March the airline has operated 40 all-cargo flights and now plans to increase this up to 20 all-cargo flights per week using a combination of its newly converted Boeing 777s, Boeing 787s and Boeing 777s, in addition to current scheduled flights to London, Paris, Frankfurt and Hong Kong.

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