Airbus is developing a modification for A330 and A350 family aircraft that will enable airlines to install freight pallets directly onto the cabin floor seat tracks after removal of the economy-class seats.
The modification is aimed at the high demand for humanitarian flight and medical cargo transportation, as well as ensuring business continuity throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
According to Airbus, the company’s solution facilitates easier and quicker loading and unloading operations as compared with loading cargo directly onto seats. Other important benefits include:
- Reduced wear and tear to seats;
- Added security of robust fire protections; and
- 9g load restraint capability.
The company stated that the modification is to be sold to operators as an Airbus Service Bulletin (SB); meaning Airbus would define the engineering workscope and manage the process for obtaining the one-time certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) end-to-end.
Its scope includes the removal of the seats and in-flight entertainment, installation of cargo pallets and associated safety equipment – and also the re-installation of the original passenger cabin elements for reverting back to passenger operations.
Airbus has announced the rollout after several high-profile airlines have taken a number of different tacks to temporarily repurpose airlines for cargo operations. Transport Canada recently approved conversion of three Air Canada aircraft, and the FAA recently followed suit.
Likewise, a new cargo seat bag that can repurpose an A320 passenger plane into a makeshift freighter was given the green light by the European Aviation Safety Agency earlier this month. This allowed Germany’s Lufthansa to refit a number of its 426-seater 777-9s for cargo missions.