Even though many airlines are reducing the number of their “preighters” meanwhile, there will still be passenger aircraft used as freighters in the coming years. For this reason, Dresden, Germany-based aircraft converter EFW has developed a new transport box that is exactly adapted to the dimensions of common Airbus and Boeing cabins.
The new Cabin Cargo Box is extremely robust and enables airlines to boost the transport capacity in the main cabin of their aircraft to the maximum, EFW assures in a release. Practically, this means that – for example – a volume of up to 145 m³ and a payload of nearly 19 tons can be uplifted by an A330-200 per flight, in addition to the belly hold capacity offered by this Airbus variant.
One size fits all solution
Every single Cabin Cargo Box, made of lightweight composites, offers a loading of 200 kg (440 lbs) at a tare weight of only 28 kg. Thanks to its size of 1 x 1 x 1,55 m (40 x 40 x 60 in), the container fits well with all common passenger doors and is applicable for all narrow and widebody aircraft. It allows a side by side principle of three boxes in a row in passenger cabins, EFW assures.
The new box comes with an installation kit, with latches designed to exactly match with the seat rowing system at predefined positions and to ensure a safe and quick installation. Thanks to its four wheels, it is movable, thus easy to handle for the loading personnel, and customers can choose between a one side open version locked with nets, or a version closeable either by canvas or a solid door.
The producer emphasizes that specific load authorizations can be achieved, and the bins make it possible to transport larger and heavy items in the cabin. The solution can be issued with Supplemental Type Certification (STC) when merited, which EFW is authorized to do under its EASA-certified Design Organization Authorization (DOA).
The Cabin Cargo Box is an advanced opportunity to implement individual cargo solutions optimized to airlines’ needs with just minor modifications: flexible and reversible.
We spoke briefly with Christoph Jahn, Program Manager Aftermarket & Spares, at EFW – Elbe-Flugzeugwerke GmbH, about the project.
CFG: The preighter - hype seems to have passed its peak. First airlines are converting their hybrid aircraft back into full passenger versions. Doesn't your Cabin Cargo Box actually come too late?
CJ: Safety is the highest priority in aviation, so it took us a while to get the official licenses to launch the product. In addition, our shareholder Airbus put the whole item through its paces, which cost additional time. Apart from these starting conditions, we see a medium-term scenario for the use of our boxes. This is because we assume that the pandemic will not be over soon, which should keep demand for air freight high in the longer term due to the lack of belly capacity of those passenger aircraft that remain underutilized due to Covid-19 in the next couple of years.
Voices from the industry, including your company, claim that carriers cannot earn money with preighter operations. Assuming this is correct, it must be asked if your latest product makes any sense.
Airlines using our product have a significantly lower cost base and a higher net effect through optimized cabin utilization. Our lightweight cargo box significantly reduces turnaround times because the containers can be filled in warehouses and only need to be loaded onto the aircraft after landing. In addition, it should be noted that significantly less manpower is required in contrast to the very labor-intensive loading of the standard preighters operated by many carriers, where only the passenger seats have been removed. For loading or unloading such preighters, 40 to 50 people are needed, because of the many small packages that need a lot of manpower to be brought aboard the aircraft. This, in combination with longer downtimes, naturally increases the costs compared to our solution.
Has EFW sold a single Cabin Cargo Box already?
Not yet, but we are in discussion with several carriers that have shown remarkable interest in our Cabin Cargo Box.
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