Passenger To Freighter Conversion Of Aircrafts Engineering Essay

The purpose of the report is to provide detailed description for future aerospace engineers on how and why a P2F (also known as PTF or Passenger-to-Freighter) conversion is carried out.

1.2. Background

Ever since the new millennium started, P2F conversions on aircrafts have become more common in the civil aviation industry. Major civil aviation industry companies (Airbus, Boeing, etc.) started researching with designs on how to modify an airframe structure of their ageing passenger jets to cargo freighters. In conjunction with the current economic situation, civil aviation logistic companies are trying to find ways to cut down expenses on replacing older cargo freighter aircrafts- buying P2F converted aircrafts. Furthermore, P2F conversions extend lifespan of passenger jets, providing first-hand quality P2F cargo aircrafts at second-hand cargo freighter prices. Since there is an increase in demand in the cargo freighter industry more companies will look at P2F conversions .Mainly because it is more economical for the company and they can gain the same amount of revenue at the same time.

1.3. Methodology

The information was gathered from a few websites through the internet, books and magazine references .The content was retrieved from websites like , books like, magazines like.

1.4. Scope

The Focused areas are mainly about the structural differences between a freighter aircraft and a passenger aircraft. In addition, the report will include structure of freighter planes. In addition, it will include the pros and cons of P2F and how the conversion is carried out. Lastly, this report includes the technical effects to the aircraft structure.

2. P2F Conversion Procedures

There are various types of P2F conversion procedures. The various procedures are basically created by primary manufacturers (Boeing and Airbus) and assorted conversion companies (EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) and SIAEC (Singapore International Airlines Engineering Company)).As a result , there are many different procedures for a P2F conversion to be complete. The following procedures will be according to the 4-month conversion of the Airbus A310 wide-bodied airliner into the Airbus A310-200F by Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW).In the following few paragraphs I will discuss about the different procedures carried out during a P2F conversion procedure. (SPG Media Limited, 2010. Airbus A310-200F Freighter Aircraft-Aerospace Technology [online]. Available from:

2.1. Preparation before conversion

The airplanes paintwork is scraped off. Thereafter, a fraction of the passenger cabin is taken out. The aircraft is then jacked into a neutral stress point for 4 weeks for the modification of the airframe. With the plane partially empty it is jacked up into a neutral stress point for 4 weeks for the adjustment of the aeroplanes body. (SPG Media Limited, 2010. Airbus A310-200F Freighter Aircraft-Aerospace Technology [online]. Available from:

2.2. Plug windows

Now that the aircraft does not carry any more passengers, windows in the aircraft are useless. The windows previously used for passengers to look out of the aircraft are now plugged (covered up). As u can see in the image below, there are no more windows in a freighter aircraft because it saves time on maintenance and for safety reasons. Therefore the windows are plugged.(Marcel van Leeuwen, 2006, Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter Arrives in Seattle [online]. Civilian aviation news. Available from: 747-large-cargo-freighter-arrives-in-seattle/)

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Figure 2.6: Plugging of Windows (Airbus Freighter Conversion, 2010)

2.3. Removal of unwanted material

Anything in the aircraft that is not needed anymore is removed from the aircraft. Passenger- related facilities and structure (like seats and carpet flooring) is take out of the as it does not come in handy for a cargo freighter. This is to make room for the installation of the new freighter equipment. With the removal of redundant material it creates space for the cargo. (SPG Media Limited, 2010. Airbus A310-200F Freighter Aircraft-Aerospace Technology [online]. Available from:

2.4. Fitting of cargo door

The front-end of the fuselage section is opened up in 2 stages for the installation of the cargo door. The upper frame shell is held at its position and is secured by riveting the frame to the fuselage. The old lower frame shell section is substituted with a new lower frame shell that is lowered into the prepared cut-out location and incorporated strongly to the airframe. The frames forward and aft of the cut-out are entirely replaced by reinforced frames. After the installation of the frames, electric components and hydraulic systems are added for the cargo door to operate with ease. (SPG Media Limited, 2010. Airbus A310-200F Freighter Aircraft-Aerospace Technology [online]. Available from: http://www.aerospace-

Figure 2.1 — Cargo door of Boeing 747-200BDSF, 2002

2.5. Installation of new flooring

The normal flooring on a passenger aircraft cannot be used. Hence, the flooring on a passenger plane has to be removed and reinforced with a higher strength floor to resist heavy cargo loads. To move the cargo in the aircraft easily, ball mats and roller tracks are installed onto the cargo flooring. With the new flooring the aircraft can carry more load and be tough at the same time and move the cargo within the aircraft easily.(SPG Media Limited, 2010. Airbus A310-200F Freighter Aircraft-Aerospace Technology [online]. Available from:

Figure 2.2-cargo loading system of airbus

2.6. Final checks after conversion

Once the body of the aircraft has been converted and all that’s left to do is to do a final check on the whole aircraft. Firstly, the aircraft avionics is adjusted before tests are carried out. Thereafter, the customer inspects the flight to make sure everything is in working condition. However, before the aircraft is handed over to the customer the documentation for the conversion is finalised. With all these procedures done, the P2F conversion is complete. (SPG Media Limited, 2010. Airbus A310-200F Freighter Aircraft-Aerospace Technology [online]. Available from:

3. P2F conversion’s cost impact

3.1 Replacement of ageing Freighters by P2Fs.

Since the current condition for the economy is not at a very healthy condition, many aero- logistic companies would scout around for second hand cargo freighters. However, second-hand freighters have now reduced in numbers so drastically that most of them will stop flying within a few years. Hence, P2F conversions will help solve the problem of ageing cargo freighters in the near future. In 2009, airbus presented their 20-year forecast of their future freighter fleet. In their statistics shown in Fig3.1, Airbus emphasised on P2F conversions as the way to go to solve the problem of freighter insufficiency Therefore, by 2028 more than half the freighters around the world will be P2F converted. This is because P2F conversion requires low cost, shorter time and less material than manufacturing a freighter from scratch, making it a cost effective solution. (J. Leahy, L. Rouaud, 2009. Global market forecast 2009-2028 [online], 164.Avaialable from: “”&HYPERLINK “”page= .)

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Figure3.1: graph of PTF in demand (Airbus 2009) “”&HYPERLINK “”page=

3.2. Demand of P2F aircrafts

P2F conversion will take the freighter industry to a whole different level. In addition, the wider range of freighter types from P2F conversion will create a new generation of small jet freighters (e.g. Airbus A320 P2F).Besides that ,majority of Airbus freighter demand will be aided with P2F conversion as 96% of freighters in 2028 will be P2F aircrafts. This shows that the future of the P2F conversion industry will have a bright future. (J. Leahy, L. Rouaud,2009. Global market forecast 2009-2028 [online], 164.Avaialable from: “”&HYPERLINK “”page=.)

figure3.2: graph on small jet freighters (Airbus 2009) “”&HYPERLINK “”page=

4. Benefits and limitations of P2F conversion

Despite its many advantages such as its ability to save money time, material and manpower needed. Alongside, it helps extend an aircrafts life and replaces ageing freighters in the market. However, its disadvantages include acceptable use of market price as well as availability of aircraft. The next few paragraphs will explain and elaborate more on the benefits and limitations of P2F conversion.

4.1 Benefits

4.1.1 Saves cost

Companies around the world who are looking to purchase freighter cargo aircraft would most likely try to save up on anything they can save on. One of the benefits of P2F conversions is that it helps companies save money. A P2F converted aircraft costs nearly one third of a freighter aircraft made from scratch. Since it’s just part of the aircraft that is reconstructed, it will help save cost on the amount of material used. When there is less work to be done, less manpower is needed. Hence; they can save cost by employing fewer engineers to work. Therefore, P2F conversions help save money for companies. (According to Phillip Securities Research (2005), initiating coverage Singapore)

4.1.2 Extends aircraft life

A P2F conversion helps extend an aircrafts life span as well. When an aircraft is almost reaching its age of retirement it can either be scrapped or reborn again. In this case the aircraft is sent to companies that deal with conversions. The old structure is replaced with new structure in order for it to fly safely. Therefore, P2F conversions help extend the lifespan of an aircraft.(EADS media centre, Rising (like a phoenix [online], available from: 35848193/mediacenter.html?height=500HYPERLINK “ 35848193/mediacenter.html?height=500&width=1024&attrs=scrolling=no”&HYPERLINK “ 35848193/mediacenter.html?height=500&width=1024&attrs=scrolling=no”width=1024HYPERLINK “ 35848193/mediacenter.html?height=500&width=1024&attrs=scrolling=no”&HYPERLINK “ 35848193/mediacenter.html?height=500&width=1024&attrs=scrolling=no”attrs=scrolling%3Dno) (SIA engineering company website<>provides information on what P2F conversion is)

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4.2 Limitations

4.2.1 Acceptable used market price

P2F conversions serve as a form of investment for airline companies. If the cost of the conversion is more than the proposed price to sell the aircraft, the owner selling the P2F converted aircraft will incur a loss. In addition, different models of aircraft go through different kinds of conversion processes. Hence, the standard of quality and the workmanship to set prices for the P2F aircrafts vary widely, which might lead to underpriced P2F planes. (Hamilton, , 2007)

4.2.2 Airframe availability

In order to perform a P2F conversion, there must be available airframes. The airframe needs to be from an airworthy passenger jet which is not in service anymore. If not, it would make no sense just to make an aircraft and convert it. Therefore, the number of used jets there are out there is limited to availability. (Hamilton, , 2007)

5. Conclusion

The P2F conversion procedure may seem simple to digest. However, it is much more sophisticated compared to the other areas in the aeronautical market. Regardless, the freighter market is shinning their spotlight on P2F conversions to give old passenger aircrafts a second chance to fly again as freighters. In addition, P2F aircrafts are able to perform almost as well as new freighters made from scratch. No matter how advanced P2F conversion gets, there are limits for the acceptable used market price. Otherwise, the conversion will result in heavy loss financially.

6. Recommendations

P2F conversion is a very profitable market to invest in. Companies dealing with P2F can take one more step by making use of more advanced technology when they are converting aircrafts. It can help save cost by using less material and maybe even with efficiency. Therefore P2F conversions can take one more step ahead by doing more research in this industry as there will be a rise in demand for freighter aircrafts in the future.

III. References

SPG Media Limited, 2010. Airbus A310-200F Freighter Aircraft-Aerospace Technology [online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 august 2010]

Marcel van Leeuwen, 2006, Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter Arrives in Seattle [online]. Civilian aviation news. Available from:, [Accessed 16 august 2010]

J. Leahy, L. Rouaud,2009. Global market forecast 2009-2028 [online], 164.Avaialable from: “”&HYPERLINK “”page= .[Accessed 16 august 2010]

like a phoenix [online], available from: .[Accessed 16 august 2010]

SIA engineering company website<>provides information on what P2F conversion is. [Accessed 16 august 2010]

Hamilton, , 2007 [Accessed 16 august 2010]

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