Move to help make up for global shortage of ‘belly-freight’ capacity
Airbus has developed processes for modifying A330 and A350 family aircraft to enable airlines to install freight pallets directly onto the cabin floor seat tracks, after removal of the economy-class seats.
The solution will help with business continuity and help make up for the global shortage of ‘belly-freight’ air cargo capacity due to the widespread grounding of long-haul aircraft in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will also help the air cargo industry to address the high demand for humanitarian flights that transport large quantities of medical equipment and other supplies.
Compared with loading cargo onto seats, the Airbus solution facilitates easier and quicker loading and unloading operations, as well as reduced ‘wear & tear’ to the seats themselves.
Other important benefits include the added security of robust fire protection, and the 9g load restraint capability to prevent anything from shifting in flight.
The modification is packaged for operators as an Airbus Service Bulletin (SB).
Its scope includes the removal of the seats & IFE (Inflight entertainment), installation of cargo pallets and associated safety equipment – and also the re-installation of the original passenger cabin elements for reverting back to passenger operations.
The SB approach will also be valid beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.