Vallair has unveiled the first ever E Class widebody freighter conversion capability at its brand new state-of-the-art mega hangar in Châteauroux, France.
The solution, which is designed to bridge the gap while operators currently wait five years or more for full freighter conversion slots, is the result of a joint investment between France-based companies Vallair and UUDS, which is Part 21 certified.
Grégoire Lebigot, Founder, President & CEO of Vallair highlighted the importance of the programme: “Innovation is and has always been integral to Vallair’s DNA. Turning the Airbus A330-300 upper deck into a cargo area without installing the large cargo door means that the conversion cost will be just a quarter of the cost compared to a conversion with one.
“Turnaround time will be just around one month instead of six – so the benefits are clear to see. Also, it is the very first “made in France” cargo conversion programme for a widebody aircraft, and Vallair is proud to spearhead this efficient, industry-leading process as part of its re-industrialisation of aviation in the region.”
Vallair says its E Class solution means that loading is not done on pallets or containers but uses a conveyor that fits inside the cargo hold to efficiently load and distribute individual parcels instead. This proven concept expedites the process and reduces turnaround times considerably.
“This solution addresses current market needs and increases the value of the asset because it is completely reversible should the market change,” Lebigot says. “The aircraft can easily be converted back to PAX configuration, or transformed into a freighter with a large cargo door in future. It is a complementary alternative solution to the traditional freighter conversion, not a replacement.”
Vallair says EASA approval using a Supplemental Type Certificate is expected within the next two months.
Gilles Negre, Founder & CEO of UUDS comments: “Flexibility in aircraft cabin and cargo configuration has always been key factor for successful aviation operations and revenue optimisation. Our quick change and reversible solution brings this versatility to operators and gives them additional revenue generating options. It also offers lessors alternative solutions to boost their aircraft utilisation and life expectancy. Return-on-investment is improved and asset value is increased.”
Vallair says its new hangar in Châteauroux is an important catalyst for the Airbus A330-300 E Class conversion. The hangar can accommodate two Airbus A330 aircraft, or one Airbus A330 and up to three Airbus A321s at any one time, resulting in Vallair being able to perform both wide and narrowbody maintenance, and offer a ‘Swiss-knife’ approach with tailored solutions using all of its capabilities on site including maintenance, paint, engine shop, aerostructure repairs, conversion, teardown and component support.