Conceived initially to alleviate the increasing passenger and aircraft congestion at airports, the A380 also has a future as a cargo aircraft.
FedEx is the launch customer for the Airbus A380-800F, with an order for ten aircraft, orders have also been placed by Emirates, and Atlas Air has expressed interest in the type. The aircraft will have a maximum payload of 150 tons, nearly one-third more than that of the 747-400F.
Probably the most radical cargo aircraft conversion is that carried out by SATIC on the A300, which produced the A300B4-608ST Super Transport, otherwise known as the Beluga. The conversion includes removal of the upper fuselage, which is replaced by a bulbous upper lobe with a hinged cargo door at the front, a repositioned cockpit, an enlarged fin and finlets on the tailplane. Four Belugas have been built for use by Airbus Industrie.
Airbus A300B4-203(F), G-CEXI, is one of three converted A300-203s operated by Channel Express (Air Services) Ltd. Conversions of A300s and A310s are undertaken at two EADS plants in Germany and France. The Aircraft Services Group of BAE Systems in the UK has carried out a number of conversions on the A300B.
This ATR 42 freighter conversion, ZS-OVP, carries www.solenta.com titles and the legend ‘Flying Together with DHL’ on the upper forward fuselage sides. The operator has purchased two aircraft for this operation, the other being ZS-OVR.
Australian Air Express (AAE) BAe 146-300QT freighter VH-NJF is one of two examples of this variant, together with a 146-100QC freighter operated by the Melbourne/Tullamarine-based carrier, which is a joint venture between Qantas Airways and Australia Post Corporation. Operating its first service on August 1, 1992, carrying mail for Australia Post, AAE has grown rapidly to operate an express air freight service across Australia and throughout the world. The AAE fleet also includes two freight-configured Boeing 727s operated on its behalf by Air Cargo Australia and three SA227AT Expeditor freighters operated by Pel-Air.
Resplendent in striking new colours, ATL Carvair N5459M is currently operated by Rand-based Phoenix Apollo Aviation. An aircraft with a glorious past, spanning 57 years, it was built as a Douglas C54E-5-DO and delivered to the USAF as 44-9088 on April 7, 1945. Later that year it returned to Douglas to join Pan American Airways as N88881 Clipper Kit Carlson. After serving with Japan Air Lines and Ansett-ANA, it was converted by Aviation Traders to an ATL-98 Carvair. In between periods in storage it subsequently flew with Seulawah Air Services, Nation Air, Hawaii Pacific Air and Air Cargo Hawaii. In November 2000 it departed Jan Smuts Airport for Kinshasa for scrapping, understood to be ‘no longer safe to fly'. This assumption was obviously wrong as there appears to be life in the old dog yet.
West Air Sweden AB now has five ATPs in service as dedicated freighters. A sixth aircraft is being converted at West Air’s Lidkoping facility into the first large freight door aircraft, under a jointly funded programme between the airline and BAE Systems.
A line-up of pallets for loading aboard Eva Air Cargo Douglas MD-11F freighter B-16109 at Sharjah. A total of 32 passenger MD-11s had been converted to cargo configuration to supplement the five MD-11Cs and 56 MD-11Fs built in Long Beach before the programme was terminated in February last year.
Note the tail brace under the rear of Korean Air Boeing 747-400F HL7403, which prevents it tipping up due to the rearward centre of gravity as it is loaded.