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Airbus developing belly-freight conversion solution for A330s, A350s

written by Sandy Milne | May 1, 2020

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.

(A demonstration of a refitted interior. Source: Airbus)

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:

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  • 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.

4 Comments

  • shane

    says:

    Those pallets look a little to big to get through the passenger doors

  • Geoffrey

    says:

    Is this the ‘new’ Combo.

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    Whilst I am a huge subscriber to the view that the only thing in life you cant do is, slam a revolving door, I think there has been a bit too much imaginative licence applied to the use of pax a/c for cargo use at this time. I am presuming that the picture above of pallets in the pax cabin is for illustrative purposes only, if not WOW, a unique fwd/aft restraint system, cant see the vertical/side system and, with 9g capability what about floor rollers too? We all know that seat packs have been around for yonks, handy things to have, not the easiest thing to fit and secure the restraints and one is limited to what can be packed in it, not too good for the seat either, some modern seat armrests don’t fully fold up either, manpower intensive and overall truly not the best idea and for bulk use ie a LH B777????? – ok for maybe a B737/A320. A better idea, not a new one either, remove seats and put structural bins in their place, longitudinally, far easier, quicker, more economical in operation less damage to the aircraft interior and more user friendly. Now when all this social distancing thing is out of the window maybe we can reduce the extravagant over the top fitting of business class space capsules to our mostly long haul aircraft, reconsider the pitch allocation available for the largest numbers of passengers travelling; the long forgotten “tourist/economy” punter, you will have to do something to attract them back, most of us are still awaiting our refunds on airline cancellations too, so a lot of fence mending to be done, how about 36ins for ecy and 42ins for P/ecy, I heard a rumor that QF A350’s if and when they get them were going to configed similarly

  • Bernard

    says:

    I asked Qantas about installing cabin lockers for luggage as a way to separate pax more. This would free up cargo space underneath. Said lockers would go through normal pre- flight checks, loaded by ground staff. Lockers only openable while stationary on the ground. Cabin crew don’t get access. Might be a selling point for business/first class as they get their stuff quicker?

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