Wednesday, 15 March 2017

NG conversions struggle to take off

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Aviation consultancy Flight Ascend predicts global demand for 1,530 jet conversions over the next two decades – more than 70% of them narrowbodies – as passenger airlines switch to the latest generation of fuel-efficient planes, and older models are re-purposed for a new life flying cargo. The work is conducted by a handful of highly specialised companies that obtain Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) for their designs from national regulators.

Aircraft valuations are the main factor in determining the viability of such projects, with cargo customers routinely shelling out $3.5 million for conversions and $1.5 million for maintenance on top of base prices for narrowbodies. Older, more affordable models like the Boeing 737 Classics (-400s and -300s) therefore dominate the conversion market. But as the availability of Classics dwindles, the industry is turning its attention to younger – and much pricier – 737NGs (-800s and -700s), the current generation of narrowbody passenger jets...