Ethiopian Airlines pioneers in converting B767 passenger aircraft into freighter

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The $14 mln worth conversion is the first in Africa

Ethiopian Airlines Group announced the completion of passenger to freighter conversion of its single B767 aircraft.

Ethiopian partnered with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and launched a B767-300ER freighter conversion line at Ethiopian Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities in Addis Abeba.

“We’ve been dreaming about conversion of passenger to freighter for more than a decade,” said Mesfin Tassew, CEO of the Ethiopian Airlines Group.

The conversion is the first for Africa’s aviation industry, Mesfin says. “It costs $14 million to convert the single passenger plane into freighter,” Mesfin said. “Whereas, a single B767 plane costs over $80 million if we purchase a plane under a cargo configuration.”

The second plane is in conversion process.

“The conversion of 25 passenger planes into cargo by taking out passengers’ seats was implemented during the initial period of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mesfin said, adding that, “Today’s conversion is a major and permanent one unlike it was implemented before, which will enable a plane to operate 60 tons of freight.”

“This conversion will remove passengers’ seats conversion panels, changes will be made on the wings, and cabin instruments will be installed to totally transform the plane into freight configuration,” Mesfin explained.

The conversion consumed five months, according to Mesfin.

A B767 aircraft was fully converted into freighter plane after it served for 17 years. A water salute ceremony and test flight  for the converted plane was held. 

The conversion of aircraft into freighter will also enhance the Airline’s cargo shipment capacity and its services.

The airline introduced these B767 aircraft models in 2004. The conversion is aimed at replacing these ageing airplanes with ultramodern and technologically-advanced passenger aircraft to provide utmost comfort and convenience for passengers, according to Ethiopian Airlines.

Yaacov Berkovitz, Vice President and General Manager Conversions and Upgrades Division IAI- Aviation Group on his part praised the dedication of the Ethiopian Airlines MRO division and IAI- Aviation engineers and other managers for their dedicated work and success.

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