GOL Aerotech Seeks Conversion Work

Gol’s planned conversion line is expected to be at its Confins facility.
Credit: GOL Aerotech

Following the recent deal for Brazilian carrier GOL to provide dedicated freighter services to local e-commerce giant Mercado Livre, reports have emerged that the airline’s maintenance arm is angling for passenger-to-freighter (PTF) conversion work.

Specifically, GOL Aerotech is seeking approval to become the latest facility under the Boeing Converted Freighter program for the 737-800.

Under GOL’s 10-year deal with Mercado Livre, the e-commerce company will have exclusive use of six 737-800BCFs, with an option of adding six more cargo aircraft by 2025.

It is unclear how far GOL Aerotech has progressed towards conversion approval, but operations under the Mercado deal are expected to begin in the second half of this year.

This year, Boeing plans to open one conversion line at its London Gatwick MRO facility, followed by two conversion lines in 2023 at KF Aerospace MRO in Kelowna, Canada. 

Earlier in 2021, Boeing announced it would create additional 737-800BCF conversion capacity at several sites, including a third conversion line at Gameco in China and two conversion lines in 2022 with Coopesa in Costa Rica.

GOL’s planned conversion line is expected to be at its Confins facility. Spanning 145,000 m2 (approximately 156,000 ft.2), this has two maintenance hangars and one paint hangar, plus six workshops capable of repairing and overhauling wheels, brakes and steel structures, as well as the inspection of engines and other components. 

Boeing forecasts 1,720 freighter conversions will be needed over the next 20 years to meet demand. Of those, 1,200 will be standard-body conversions, with nearly 20% of that demand coming from European carriers, and 30% coming from North America and Latin America. 

GOL plans to end this year with 136 aircraft in its fleet, comprised of 44 737 MAX units and 92 737NGs. The introduction of the six-cargo aircraft is expected to generate fleet optimization savings of approximately R$25 million ($5.4 million) in 2022 and another R$75 million in 2023.

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.