AEI Expects To Double Conversions In Hot Cargo Market

AEI has now sold out all of its 2020 conversion slots and the first quarter of its 2021 slots.
Credit: Aviation Week

While most segments of the commercial aftermarket have experienced sharp downturns since the COVID-19 outbreak, growth has taken place in the passenger to freighter (PTF) aircraft conversion market.

Specialists in the field such as Aeronautical Engineers (AEI) are seeing this. The Miami-based company currently offers passenger-to-freighter conversions for the 737-800s, -400s and -300s, the MD-80 series and CRJ200s. AEI's SVP Robert Convey says the company has been experiencing a strong up-tick in conversions across all types since May 2020.

“The pandemic’s effect on the airline business produced a twofold benefit for the conversion industry: it freed up desperately needed feedstock which had been lacking for the past several years. Second, it created a strong demand from freight operators that were looking to fill the void left by parked widebody passenger aircraft.”

AEI has now sold out all of its 2020 conversion slots and the first quarter of its 2021 slots. Convey is forecasting delivery of 15 conversions this year and more than double that count in 2021.

“Another unusual effect of the pandemic is that I am seeing orders for all five of our current conversion products, CJR200SF, MD80SF, B737-300SF, B737-400SF and the B737-800SF,” Convey notes. “In years past, there would be two or three products that would dominate a year’s orders. But we are now firing on all cylinders.” 

AEI recently agreed to provide Aviation Holdings III Investments with its fourth 737-800SF freighter conversion. The modification will be performed by China’s HAECO Xiamen.

Others, including Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries, are also busy. IAI Marketing Rafi Matalon says his company is experiencing increase demand for conversions for its 767BDSFs, 737-700BDSFs and -800 BDSFs.