Etihad and IAI team up for Passenger-to-Freighter Conversion facility in Abu Dhabi
Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Aviation Group has signed an agreement with Etihad Engineering to establish a passenger-to-freighter conversion site for Boeing 777-3000ER aircraft. The new conversion center, which will operate as the company’s maintenance center in Abu Dhabi, will supply a solution for the global rise in demand for cargo jets of this model. The conversion center in Abu Dhabi is an addition to other global cargo conversion sites that IAI operates, besides its existing conversion lines at the company’s campus at Ben Gurion International Airport.
Etihad Engineering is the largest commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services provider in the Middle East, and the center in Abu Dhabi will be the largest and most advanced in the Middle East to be certified by the UAE Civil Aviation Authority, the US’s Federal Aviation Administration, and the European Aviation Safety Agency. At the conversion center, passenger planes will be converted to cargo configuration, and maintenance, renovation and overhaul services will be supplied.
In 2019, IAI and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) announced the launch of the Boeing 777-300ERSF, a programme which established a P2F conversion dubbed ‘The Big Twin’ denoting its status as the largest ever twin-engine freighter.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the aviation sector, cargo operations are offsetting operators’ losses, as it continues to play a critical role in facilitating international trade. As a result, industry forecasts show an increase in demand for wide-body freighter aircraft with long-haul capacity.
Etihad Engineering will capitalise on their expertise and extensive capabilities for the specialised Boeing 777-300ERSF conversion. In the initial stage of the partnership, Etihad Engineering will facilitate towards two conversion lines accommodating multiple aircraft conversions per year.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “The Boeing 777-300ERSF is not only extremely attractive to customers but a technological breakthrough, given that it’s the first in its size category to offer extensive cargo solutions. Not only do we see the demand, but we view it as a greener, more profitable, highly innovative solution for our airline customers, and an excellent way to drive value for our business.”
Abdul Khaliq Saeed, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Engineering, said, “We are delighted to announce our partnership with IAI which maximises the potential of our highly skilled workforce and reinforces Etihad Engineering’s position as a centre of excellence in Abu Dhabi in line with Abu Dhabi’s economic vision 2030. Our commitment to the P2F programme demonstrates our confidence in the ability of IAI to deliver long-term value enhancement of the B777-300ER’s in the global fleet.”
Boaz Levy, President & CEO, Israel Aerospace Industries, said “The Abraham Accords have given IAI the opportunity to expand its global activity to the Gulf region. IAI is active in over 100 countries across the world. Establishing the conversion site in partnership with Etihad Engineering is a testament to IAI’s strong ties with the UAE and strengthens its foothold in the region. I am confident that this agreement will lead to many more partnerships with local companies in the Gulf States, which will grow our business in the region.”
Yossi Melamed, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Israel Aerospace Industries Aviation Group, said, “IAI’s Aviation Group, the world’s leading cargo conversion provider, has begun the structural modification of Boeing 777-300ERSF in cooperation with GECAS to provide a leading professional solution to the air cargo industry. Over many years, Etihad Engineering has received the highest professional regard from IAI’s Aviation Group. The Abraham Accords have enabled us to meet the company’s managers first-hand, to see their ability and dedication, in addition to witnessing the company’s great capabilities in the field of jet maintenance. The agreement we signed adds a significant tier to the relations between Israel and the Gulf States. I have no doubt following this agreement, additional agreements with companies in the region will arrive, and they will economically benefit the sides involved. I would like to thank Tony Douglas, the company’s CEO, and my friend Abdul Khaliq Saeed for the energy they invested in bringing to fruition the first cooperation agreement between IAI and Etihad Engineering. I eagerly await the moment when B77-300ERSF jets converted jointly by IAI and Etihad Engineering will take to the skies and serves clients all over the world.”
Israel Aerospace Industries’ Aviation Group, the home of aviation in Israel, unites all activity in aircraft piloted by humans: maintenance (MRO), business jets, converting passenger jets to cargo configuration, hangars and aviation arrays, aircraft upgrading and more. With knowledge and accumulated experience in aviation spanning almost 70 years of the company’s existence, excellent human capital and groundbreaking technologies, the group is in line with the world’s leading aviation companies. Among its clients are some of the world’s leading companies, like Amazon, DHL, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Gulf Stream and more.