Covid-19: Airbus adapts its passenger aircraft to facilitate cargo transport

  •   04/05/2020 - 11h07
  •   DEHOUI Lionel

In order to combat the current coronavirus pandemic, several companies are involved, each according to its field of expertise. The great Airbus does not remain on the sidelines of this mobilization. It has undertaken to transform its passenger aircraft into cargo transport following the high demand for medical freight in this period of crisis.

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Covid-19: Airbus adapts its passenger aircraft to facilitate cargo transport
Image copyright: reeser - Flickr

Airbus solution to Covid-19

In a press release, the aircraft manufacturer Airbus unveiled this Thursday its plan to change its passenger aircraft into cargo transport. This decision follows the requests of the companies. They want to know if Airbus could increase the capacity of its passenger planes for freight. The aircraft manufacturer has responded positively to this request. Indeed, Airbus is currently converting its A330 and A350 aircraft to meet the demand of its airline customers.

 

The twofold observation

Since the health crisis, the group has seen a high demand for freight for medical equipment and a decline in its cargot activities. These activities were then carried out by passenger aircraft (on the ground since the crisis) at an average of 45 to 50%.

 

Effect of Covid-19 on Airbus

In its first-quarter balance sheet, the European aerospace group recorded a decline in sales. It is on Wednesday, April 29th that the aircraft manufacturer announces a turnover of -15 %. That is to say 10,6 billion euros. Airbus thus lost 481 million euros, whereas it recorded a net result of 40 million euros in 2019. This is indeed a big task of the pandemic. From then on, the manufacturer's activities remained suspended because of the containment.

However, Airbus could, through this high demand for freight transport, generate revenues in the medium term. Thus, the group's response to this freight concern ensures the continuity of airline operations.

 

A330 and A35O aircraft capabilities

Above all, Yann Lardet, Vice President, Flight Operations Support, reminds us that the aircraft are rather adapted to the crisis and not converted. Thus, for an adapted A330, the aircraft manufacturer points out that it can carry an additional 7.3 tonnes (28 pallets in the cabin) and 7.8 tonnes for an A350 (30 pallets). This solution offers a higher level of safety than normal. This is a comment from Matthias Lerovante, the project manager.

These aircraft (A330, A340 and A350) are therefore chosen because they have good transport capacities. However, the group remains open for the adaptation of other aircraft categories.

 

Awaiting authorisation from EASA

Since the month of April, Airbus has conducted a survey of 1 200 people in 240 airlines regarding its cargo solution. Thus, 140 of them have expressed an interest in this adaptation and about 20 will obtain this solution by then.

The aircraft manufacturer is already awaiting certification of its solution from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). This will be done by the end of May. In fact, EASA is responsible for ensuring the safety and environmental protection of civil aviation.

 

About Airbus

Airbus, whose real name is Airbus Commercial Aircraft, is a European aircraft manufacturer that was founded in 1970. The group specialises in civil passenger aircraft, cargo business and even military aircraft. It remains one of the world's leading manufacturers of airliners.