Updated: Feb 1
The first Airbus A321P2F took flight for the first time after its conversion to a freighter. The aircraft departed from Seletar Airport on 22nd January 2020 at 3:30pm (GMT +08) and landed back in Singapore at 3:50pm (GMT +08). The aircraft performed a short test flight making circles North of Singapore, and performing a Low altitude flight test over Johor Bahru. The aircraft performed another 6 hour Long test flight on 24th January 2020, one day before the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.
The aircraft, registered D-ANJA, is being converted from a passenger to a freighter at Singapore Seletar Airport, with the front left door having already been removed and replaced with a smaller door, similar to those on the 757F. Door 3 was removed and Door 4 was retained for the wing inspection port. Besides the main door adjustments, a new cargo door was fitted at the forward section of the aircraft to load cargo pallets into the aircraft. The conversion project is a joint venture between 2 aerospace company, Elbe Fleugzeugwerke and ST Aerospace Singapore.
ST Aerospace is responsible for the engineering development phase, up to STC approval by the EASA. Airbus will provide the original equipment manufacturer data and certification support. Elbe Fleugzeugwerke is leading the overall program alongside marketing and sales efforts. Besides this joint effort, another A321 conversion Programme is offered by 321 Precision Conversions, a joint venture between Precision Aircraft Solutions and Air Transport Services Group. They are also currently working on their first aircraft (MSN 891).
The first Airbus A321 to be converted was previously owned by Onur Air (MSN 835, TC-OBJ) which arrived in Singapore in November 2019, but due to delays in the approval of the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), the project and test flights were delayed. The second Airbus A321 to be converted was previously owned by Thomas Cook Airlines (MSN 1238, G-DHJH), having arrived at Seletar Airport on Christmas Day 2019.
The 747F and the 737F are the most common aircraft type to be converted to freighter from passenger jets. Although Boeing has been dominating the freighter transport segment, the market is now threatened by Airbus after the first converted freighter flew in Singapore for the first time.
The Airbus A321P2F can carry up to 27 tonnes of Cargo and fly up to 3520 km. Airbus is taking advantage of the larger internal space and the Airbus A321P2F is said to be more efficient than the 757F. Qantas has stated that would be adding three A321P2F into the Qantas Freight Fleet. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered to Qantas in October 2020, with the aircraft enabling the airline to carry 9 tonnes more than its existing 737F.