IAI to Establish Boeing 777 PTF Conversion Line in South Korea
With demand for the Boeing 777 freighter anticipated to climb over the next few years, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) plans to grow capacity for the aircraft by establishing a new passenger-to-freighter conversion center in Seoul, South Korea.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU), announced today (May 4), will see IAI partner with Incheon International Airport and local MRO provider Sharp Technics for the joint venture, which will specifically focus on 777-200ER and 777-300ER modifications.
From 2024 when the facility will be operational, IAI has a target to convert six 777-300ER and 777-200LR aircraft annually. The company is currently working on the prototype for the 777 PTF conversion with GE Aviation Capital Services (GECAS) following the signing of a partnership in 2019.
IAI says it is likely to conclude the licensing process for the aircraft some time in 2023. Kalitta Air, the U.S.-headquartered all cargo carrier, will be the launch customer.
"Establishing more P2F aircraft conversion facilities around the world is necessary in order to meet the expected rise in demand for widebody freighter aircraft with capacity for long flights," IAI said in a statement.
IAI currently converts 747, 767, 737NG and the 737 classic aircraft across several locations. The new facility will be the first overseas production base of IAI's large-sized cargo aircraft at the Incheon Airport MRO cluster, which was established to further develop South Korea’s national and regional economy.
IAI has been actively looking to grow capacity outside of Israel. Earlier this year, it entered a partnership with Lithuania-based MRO Aviatic to establish a facility in Siauliai which will include services to convert 737 passenger aircraft into freighters from 2022.
Yossi Melamed, vice president and general manager of IAI's Aviation Group, says the MoU expands on the company’s existing operations in South Korea where, in recent years, it has transferred the production of business jet wings, main frame and parts of the tail to South Korea-based companies.