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lightsaber
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Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:27 pm

I was trying to find out the potential for freight conversion in 2020 (and later), so I was searching links. And I noticed some trends. Yes, I'm a bit obsesses, but that is because freight conversion was held up by affordable feed stock and Covid19 has made the feed stock more affordable:
First the drops for 15 year old aircraft (very appropriate for pax to freight conversions):
https://leehamnews.com/2020/06/30/hotr-values-plunge/
777-300ER dropped 33% to $31 million usd
A330-200 was already a bit depressed, but dropped 17% to $20 million
737-800 dropped 20% to $9.75 million
A320 (CEO, recall this is all for 15 year old aircraft) dropped 17% to $10.75 million
A321 (Again, CEO) dropped 21% to $15 million.

So I think the price of stock dropped enough to stimulate conversions.
As noted:

https://www.aircargoweek.com/freighter- ... eneration/

AEI senior vice president – sales and marketing Robert Convey (pictured) says: “The main reason any airline would consider converting a passenger aircraft to a freighter is cost. Converted freighters can be up to 75 per cent cheaper than buying a factory freighter if available. Most narrowbody freight operators fly less than a 1,000 hours a year and only five days a week so the aircraft sits most of its life. It is this low utilisation that pushes them to find the lowest cost solution for lift.”

I would think aircraft below $10 million would be good enough stock for this low utilization duty and the drop in new widebody values will stimulate interest.

Is it any surprise there is *another* 737-800 conversion? Gameco:
https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news ... rsion-line
The Gameco ceremony marked the opening of the sixth full 737-800BCF conversion line in China. Two other Chinese MROs provide the current conversion capacity; Shandong Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Company (Staeco) now operates three lines and early this year began installing a fourth set of tooling for a surge line. The Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services joint venture operates another two lines. Boeing promises a 90-day turnaround time regardless of the conversion facility.
Six sites with a 90 day conversion (or 4 per line), means an incredible capacity for the Boeing BCF! :faint:

I really like this series as a summary of the freight conversion market. When you realize IAI has launched the 777-300ERSF, it gives a good summary of the conversion houses (for some reason, only part iv has links to the whole series:
https://cargofacts.com/allposts/equipme ... s-part-iv/

The planes and who converts them
Widebodies:
777-300ER Bedek (in development)
767: Bedek, Boeing (who outsources to several shops)
A330: EFW (The increase to a limit of validity to 60,000 flight cycles and 180,000 flight hours makes far more airframes candidates versus the old 36,000 FC limit).

Narrowbody conversion:
757: Precision, ST Aerospace
737NG, Bedek, AEI, Boeing
A320: EFW
A321: EFW, Precision
CRJ: AEI

Last year we were already seeing too many widebodies parked. I found a great link on the A330, but I'm not picking on the type, this is to show overall market softening. I am of the opinion we have been in widebody surplus for a while and that widebody resale values reflect this.
https://www.iba.aero/insight/ibas-a330- ... ruary-2020
The above link has a scary graph on 'parked and stored' aircraft worth looking at.as well as a chart on how many A330s are parted out by year (obviously spiking)..
Not to mention a great curve on A330 lease rate history.

The result of 27 airlines ceasing or suspending operations in 2019 has been an increased supply of aircraft into the secondary market. The storage level of widebody commercial aircraft surpassed that of widebody and narrowbody aircraft combined since 2014 (excluding the Boeing Max in 2019). Additionally the number of parked and stored Airbus A330s, comprising both Airbus A330- 200 and A330-300 models, reached 161 in January 2020, representing a 13% storage level. As a result of this oversupply, lease rates and market values have been suppressed. However, the current low lease rates of A330s may open more opportunities for the low-cost long-haul carriers.

I personally see another conversion house taking up the A330. But who?

We need to be realistic on the market. Currently, the load volume dropped, but rates are up, entirely due to a lack of belly cargo volume:
https://www.iata.org/en/iata-repository ... -Apr-2020/

So when international flying recovers, which I speculate will take until 2024, my thoughts are that we will see continual sliding in freight rates.

But I think there will be far more conversions. I didn't mention the 737-300/400, but those markets will continue as raw stock, as noted in my first link, is a mere $4 million. For the lowest utilization duty, this is very cheap.

The drop of 15 year old aircraft by 20% to 33% in value will stimulate conversions. Alas, I speculate the market hasn't found the market clearing price. That is good news for freight conversion, but bad news for owners of aircraft trying to sell.

I personally see a steady growth for package delivery (e.g., Amazon) and slow growth for the traditional freight markets. Your thoughts?

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Ishrion
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sun Jul 05, 2020 9:32 pm

What happened to that A380 auxiliary freighter conversion Lufthansa Technik was working on?
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:01 pm

Ishrion wrote:
What happened to that A380 auxiliary freighter conversion Lufthansa Technik was working on?

There have been several auxiliary conversions of A340s, A350s, 777s, and other widebodies. But those conversions just remove the seats and secure light cargo to the seat tracks.

Look at how much volume is wasted:
https://www.aircargonews.net/freighters ... rgo-fleet/

We have a separate thread to discuss the A340 auxiliary conversion:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1448653


So far, it appears the A380 in freight duty is more trouble than it is worth:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/willhorton ... 14cfdc75df

That link has a fascinating chart on volume in the lower cargo hold (easiest to load).

The time to load an auxiliary freighter, in the A340 thread, was identified for the A346 as 4 hours and 4 hours to unload. That is only viable during this crisis. Having to load the A388 would probably take 6 to 8 hours and unloading time would be similar in Auxiliary freight service. How does one make a profit flying like that? EK, QR, BA, and EY will do better using 77Ws. Airbus operators will do better using A350s or A330s.

I'm more focused on proper main deck freight conversions as once enough freighters have been converted, the lower cargo capacity and extremely long turn times of the auxiliary freighters will make their economics tough.

In my op post I noted Boeing has selected a sixth MRO for the 738 conversion. That will allow huge volumes of those freighters.
So the question becomes, how many 777, A330, or other conversions will happen over the next 3 to 5 years?

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:38 pm

The 747 will be flying long after all A380s are retired. Turning a A380 into a freighter is not a practical solution. Airbus built the A380 as an alternative to the 747 and could only do it as a passenger aircraft. Technology wise the the A380 may have been a success but failed as a passenger aircraft. Purpose built 777Fs will carry enough freight and not take up the parking space of a A380. There are enough 747-400 freighters along with 747-400 passenger aircraft that can be converted to freighters that the A380 will not be used. There are about 100 747-8F freighters that will be soldering on for the next twenty to thirty years with few turning up on the secondary market. Most of them that do will then continue flying. Maybe passenger 747-8i aircraft will also be converted into freighters when they are retired.
If there is a cost effective method to replace or reinforce the "carbon fiber" beams on the 777 some of them may see conversion into freighters.
The future of freighters may be in converting narrow body 737NGs and Airbus A321s into freighters as any passenger 757s are getting a little long in the tooth. :old:
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:00 pm

lightsaber wrote:
So I think the price of stock dropped enough to stimulate conversions.


What's the amortization of this 'feed stock' as a fraction of total acquisition and operating cost over a ~20 year freighter life? A $10 million change in acquisition cost doesn't necessarily change the total cost function enough to create new air freight demand. It might take out the bottom of the market for new, purpose-built freighters for a few years.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:42 pm

On the A321 front, other than EFW and Precision, there's also Since Draco (A321SDF) and C Cubed (A321CCF). Though neither of two will have the STC obtained until later next year. I had a brief post in the A321P2F thread about the 4 houses that are doing/planning for A321P2F.
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1439571&p=22282633#p22282633

Regarding the capacity, EFW was planning to start up a A321 line in in Guangzhou using ST engineerings facility this year for a capacity of 2 aircrafts concurrently, but obviously that plan has been delayed by the COVID-19.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:00 am

I think there will be a push to reduce import of a lot of items resulting from COVID. Not just for the USA. I think it’s possible long haul air freight demand declines from COVID after things cool back down.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:17 am

MIflyer12 wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
So I think the price of stock dropped enough to stimulate conversions.


What's the amortization of this 'feed stock' as a fraction of total acquisition and operating cost over a ~20 year freighter life? A $10 million change in acquisition cost doesn't necessarily change the total cost function enough to create new air freight demand. It might take out the bottom of the market for new, purpose-built freighters for a few years.

The converted freighters might only fly 1,000 hours per year. So a mere 20,000 hours in 20. So for a narrowbody, dropping the price by $3.1 million for a 738, might be amortized or a savings $155/hour. I believe that is enough of a decision.

For the 777-300ER, a drop in value over a few months from $46 million to $31 million is an easy $15 million. That *dramatically* changes the 777-300ERSF business case as the conversion cost will probably have a conversion cost of $25 million or so. total cost went from say $71 million down to $56 million. With the higher utilization of widebodies, (say 2,500 hours per year, just an estimate), that is an instant savings of about $300/hour.

The A321 dropping by $3.9 million will nicely change the economics of the conversions. Any improvement of a business case accelerates the rate of business.

Now the A330-200, as per my prior links, is already pretty cheap. Dropping from $24 million to $20 million isn't a huge drop in the amortized costs. However, the prior drop stimulated the market.

For narrowbody freighters, utilization is so low that the recent drops will stimulate the market. As I posted, there is now demand for six conversion MRO shops. With a promised 4 month (or less) conversion time, we will quickly see how much demand can be stimulated. Now, we'll still see 737-400 conversions just because the conversion is cheap and the stock even more so.

For widebody freighters, we now have two very competitive offerings that are now likely to see a conversion acceleration thanks to the discounting. If I read my A330 link correctly, there will be about 70 A330s at lease end events in 2020, With already 13% of the widebody fleet (and A330CEO fleet) available, something will happen to pricing.

I believe that by reducing aircraft costs will stimulate demand. At the very least, it will make either A330s or 777-300ERSFs nice replacements for MD-11s. We will see a nice trickle down of freight upgrades.

Part of my opinion is based on years of the 777s being too expensive to buy stock and too expensive to convert. Bedek figured out a cheaper conversion (no floor beam changes) and stock is suddenly cheaper. Same with EFW and the A330.

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:30 am

enilria wrote:
I think there will be a push to reduce import of a lot of items resulting from COVID. Not just for the USA. I think it’s possible long haul air freight demand declines from COVID after things cool back down.

Agreed. I would add the USA and EU will not be able to afford as many imports. It is easy to spend other people's money (borrow at a national level) until it isn't.

However, because of the continuing retail collapse, I see enough freight expansion that demand will increase. I very much hope I am not wrong as I am already predicting a very deep and long recession, if it is worse than what this grumpy :old: man predicts, then we have far too interesting times ahead.

I do not see autarky as being feasible, so trade will continue which means air freight. The distribution will change, I think that we can be certain of. But nations will still need oil. That means oil producing countries will spend their money on imported items. Countries will still need software and computer chips which means those selling those items.

We'll go off topic, I think the era of printing bonds to setting trade imbalances is coming to an end. But it is far off topic to discuss the impact of currency value imbalances.

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:41 am

As noted above, the 757 converted or to be converted aircraft is in its end run, very few conversions from here on out, # flying as freighters will be declining from now. The A321 and 738NG conversions will replace and enhance this capability. I personally feel that the 737's older than NG will not be converted, already too old and much less capable engines.

The 767's have been the staple of conversions, possibly 200 candidates suitable for conversion, maybe 60 more converted.

The 747 conversion market is over, its been a decade since the last conversion. Possibly if both LH and KE get together , 25 or so of the 748i's could be converted IF very straightforward. That is the minimum quantity to cover the certification costs of doing the conversion.

The A330 has not caught on yet as a freighter, but it should. The setup in the US for cargo operators is pretty fixed toward the 767 size, but if IST became a cargo hub like Anchorage is, it could be nearly an all A330 fleet.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 12:49 am

lightsaber wrote:
The converted freighters might only fly 1,000 hours per year. So a mere 20,000 hours in 20. So for a narrowbody, dropping the price by $3.1 million for a 738, might be amortized or a savings $155/hour. I believe that is enough of a decision.


Thanks for offering some math. Really, the median op hours is just under 3 hrs a day? What's the all-in op cost per hour for a narrowbody freighter like your example?
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:04 am

JayinKitsap wrote:
As noted above, the 757 converted or to be converted aircraft is in its end run, very few conversions from here on out, # flying as freighters will be declining from now. The A321 and 738NG conversions will replace and enhance this capability. I personally feel that the 737's older than NG will not be converted, already too old and much less capable engines.

The 767's have been the staple of conversions, possibly 200 candidates suitable for conversion, maybe 60 more converted.

The 747 conversion market is over, its been a decade since the last conversion. Possibly if both LH and KE get together , 25 or so of the 748i's could be converted IF very straightforward. That is the minimum quantity to cover the certification costs of doing the conversion.

The A330 has not caught on yet as a freighter, but it should. The setup in the US for cargo operators is pretty fixed toward the 767 size, but if IST became a cargo hub like Anchorage is, it could be nearly an all A330 fleet.

You make could points. There won't be many old 737 conversions, but as the stock is so cheap and the conversion, I think a few more will be. I personally thought as you did on those, but posters here educated me and I do not think 73G nor 738 stock pricing will drop low enough, due to the value of the CFM-56-7 engines, to displace that market.

Heck, I argued that MD-80 conversions wouldn't happen, yet they are. Supper cheap stock for conversion.

I agree not too many more 757 conversions will happen. The A321 and 738 conversions will replace that capacity (as well as A320, but in a way those are replacing 734 capacity).

The 747 conversion market is indeed done. I personally doubt the 748I will be converted. I could be wrong. Perhaps GECAS will make it happen? I suspect they'll be more worried about ensuring 777-300ERSF conversions.

The A330 never caught on as a factory freighter at factory prices. EFW seems to have a backlog of 15 more conversions, which is a healthy enough demand.

From that point on, the market's interest in P2F conversions shot up rapidly. "Compared to the months before, there was suddenly a large feedstock of available aircraft that were eligible for conversion," EFW manager, Gilbert Birke describes the effect of the pandemic on the aircraft market.
While the Covid-19 lockdown threatens many aviation companies’ existence, it conversely tends to spur EFW’s business. This phenomenon is evidenced by the fast-increasing number of inquiries for P2F conversions piling up at its Dresden HQ.


https://www.forbes.com/sites/willhorton ... 14cfdc75df

I interpret that above quote that reduced pricing of aircraft stock is stimulating the business.

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:39 am

lightsaber wrote:
enilria wrote:
I think there will be a push to reduce import of a lot of items resulting from COVID. Not just for the USA. I think it’s possible long haul air freight demand declines from COVID after things cool back down.

Agreed. I would add the USA and EU will not be able to afford as many imports. It is easy to spend other people's money (borrow at a national level) until it isn't.

However, because of the continuing retail collapse, I see enough freight expansion that demand will increase. I very much hope I am not wrong as I am already predicting a very deep and long recession, if it is worse than what this grumpy :old: man predicts, then we have far too interesting times ahead.

I do not see autarky as being feasible, so trade will continue which means air freight. The distribution will change, I think that we can be certain of. But nations will still need oil. That means oil producing countries will spend their money on imported items. Countries will still need software and computer chips which means those selling those items.

We'll go off topic, I think the era of printing bonds to setting trade imbalances is coming to an end. But it is far off topic to discuss the impact of currency value imbalances.

Lightsaber


I enjoyed going through this entire topic thread which you initiated so thank you for that :)

On another note, I feel it is justified for EK to seriously contemplate converting 5-7 of its oldest B77Ws into full fledged converted freighters capable of lifting 120 tons payload (thats what the GECAS program brochure stated) as they have the network to support such an investment for the next 5 years easily. They do a lot of 5th freedom cargo ops and are big in African cargo markets as well which offer higher than normal yields (versus EU-Asia for instance) + they can expand freighter ops in India / DAC / LHE / Far East where its most needed.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:22 am

enilria wrote:
I think there will be a push to reduce import of a lot of items resulting from COVID. Not just for the USA. I think it’s possible long haul air freight demand declines from COVID after things cool back down.


unless industries such as automotive move manufacturing back to the US 100%, that will not happen.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 5:41 am

This may be a silly question, how easy is it to engineer a rear swing tail on a 778F future freighter to enable longitudinal loading.

The reason I ask is I used to fly the B744F and we were often told the pricing on above loading for specialized items was 5x normal. As the B744F ages and eventually retires -could a future swing tail be the answer? Or is the engineering just too expensive?
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:45 am

CALMSP wrote:
enilria wrote:
I think there will be a push to reduce import of a lot of items resulting from COVID. Not just for the USA. I think it’s possible long haul air freight demand declines from COVID after things cool back down.


unless industries such as automotive move manufacturing back to the US 100%, that will not happen.


The USMCA went into effect July 1, it has significantly tightened that parts and assembly occur in the US, Mexico, or Canada. Hard to know the actual extent in the market but it could shift 20% of parts origination from Asia to North America for that market.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 1:13 pm

worldranger wrote:
This may be a silly question, how easy is it to engineer a rear swing tail on a 778F future freighter to enable longitudinal loading.

The reason I ask is I used to fly the B744F and we were often told the pricing on above loading for specialized items was 5x normal. As the B744F ages and eventually retires -could a future swing tail be the answer? Or is the engineering just too expensive?

There are more nose loading freighters than there is demand. If more unpressurized capacity is needed, there are plenty of 744 in the desert.

What is happening is shippers are engineering their stuff to fit onto 777Fs or smaller. For example, the GE engines remove the fan to ship. Solid modeling has made oil drilling equipment more modular. There is still demand, but not the demand of decades ago.

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:18 pm

Interesting. Precedent is there a la Dreamlifter - should demand warrant.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:31 pm

As far as cargo load ive heard the 737-800 carries almost identical load to the 727-200, can anyone confirm that? Also how much less can the 738 carry vs the 757F?
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 5:24 pm

AndoAv8R

737-800BCF can lift 23,900 kg and has volume for 20,760kg.
Main deck 141.5 m^3 and lower cargo 43.7 m^3.

https://www.airplaneupdate.com/2019/11/ ... 00bcf.html

The 737-800BDSF (Bedek's conversion) claims 53,000lb or 24,040kg
Identical volumes to the BCF.

https://www.iai.co.il/drupal/sites/defa ... ochure.pdf

The 752 SF is 30,700 kg of payload.
https://aviationcargo.dhl.com/aviationc ... b757sf.pdf

Precision's A321PCF, 27,000 kg:

https://www.precisionaircraft.com/a321/

727-200, at 30,000 kg, is more in the 757 league:
http://www.brinkley.cc/AC/b722f.htm

So the 738 and A321 conversions are fractionally less capable than the 752 or 727F.

Amazon volumes out first, so likes the 738 based conversions. I would expect 737-800 conversions to be much lower cost per flight.

Something is driving the demand... I was shocked to find out that six MROs are approved to to 737-800 BCF work. :faint:
That will be mass produced. I see why Boeing and GECAS invested in the project...


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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:49 pm

I found another, similar link on the 737-800 BCF line:
https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news ... t-softness

24 conversions delivered by February 2020
22 conversions planned for delivery in 2020.

A majority of conversions are being performed by leasing companies and this expected to be the long term trend (65% leasing company owned). Majority of use in China.

This article was before the plummet in resale values of passenger planes as a result of Convid19.

Unfortunately, we have hit a desperation for revenue from MROs, airlines, and leasing companies.

The more information I collect, the more certain I am that freighter conversions will accelerate as I become more pessimistic on the recovery of international air travel.

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:31 pm

lightsaber wrote:
[...]We'll go off topic, [...]


Not at all! The complicated equation just contains a huge number of variables with some of them even being completely unknown.

For instance: Will the almost defunct ocean container shipping system recover within the next 12-60 months?

Absolutely nobody knows for sure into what direction things will turn next. Maybe that is why the vast majority of recent freighter conversions had been very half-hearted, or "auxiliary", as you call it more diplomatically. ;)
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:53 am

lightsaber wrote:
I found another, similar link on the 737-800 BCF line:
https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news ... t-softness

24 conversions delivered by February 2020
22 conversions planned for delivery in 2020.

A majority of conversions are being performed by leasing companies and this expected to be the long term trend (65% leasing company owned). Majority of use in China.

This article was before the plummet in resale values of passenger planes as a result of Convid19.

Unfortunately, we have hit a desperation for revenue from MROs, airlines, and leasing companies.

The more information I collect, the more certain I am that freighter conversions will accelerate as I become more pessimistic on the recovery of international air travel.

Lightsaber


The question is; will UPS or FedEx order the 738F/321F down the road - or will they stay with larger aircraft due growing E-commerce.

At some point they will need a 757F replacement. What aircraft will fill that role - WB or NB?
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:34 pm

lightsaber wrote:
Ishrion wrote:
What happened to that A380 auxiliary freighter conversion Lufthansa Technik was working on?

There have been several auxiliary conversions of A340s, A350s, 777s, and other widebodies. But those conversions just remove the seats and secure light cargo to the seat tracks.

Look at how much volume is wasted:
https://www.aircargonews.net/freighters ... rgo-fleet/

We have a separate thread to discuss the A340 auxiliary conversion:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1448653


So far, it appears the A380 in freight duty is more trouble than it is worth:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/willhorton ... 14cfdc75df

That link has a fascinating chart on volume in the lower cargo hold (easiest to load).

The time to load an auxiliary freighter, in the A340 thread, was identified for the A346 as 4 hours and 4 hours to unload. That is only viable during this crisis. Having to load the A388 would probably take 6 to 8 hours and unloading time would be similar in Auxiliary freight service. How does one make a profit flying like that? EK, QR, BA, and EY will do better using 77Ws. Airbus operators will do better using A350s or A330s.

I'm more focused on proper main deck freight conversions as once enough freighters have been converted, the lower cargo capacity and extremely long turn times of the auxiliary freighters will make their economics tough.

In my op post I noted Boeing has selected a sixth MRO for the 738 conversion. That will allow huge volumes of those freighters.
So the question becomes, how many 777, A330, or other conversions will happen over the next 3 to 5 years?

Lightsaber


I guess Hi Fly was the A380 conversion customer?

https://paxex.aero/2020/07/hifly-a380-c ... paign=4362
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:41 pm

What could be a real game changer is if a B77W swing tail freighter can be developed. That would effectively replace 747 nose loading freighters.

As for FX, I could see either ordering the B738 freighter for markets too small for a B752. 5X doesn’t really have any planes high enough time for a replacement yet except maybe the MD11 fleet.

Within the USA, Alaska Airlines could be a candidate to send out some owned 73H frames for conversion (they already had 3 73Gs converted) once the 7M9 can finally fly.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:50 pm

worldranger wrote:
The question is; will UPS or FedEx order the 738F/321F down the road - or will they stay with larger aircraft due growing E-commerce.

At some point they will need a 757F replacement. What aircraft will fill that role - WB or NB?


The key clause there is 'at some point.' FedEx is flying 47 year-old DC-10s. The 757s are a youthful 22-37 years old. The key question is 'What's going to be on the market in new freighter builds, or in conversions in large numbers, in ten years?' 320x means adding a type, not a trivial concern with ~5,000 pilots. Now, if they want to dump the 737-400s and -800s and go 32x...
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:56 pm

Since the thread is expanding to temporary conversions, EK is removing seats from 10 aircraft, mostly 777s:
https://english.alarabiya.net/en/corona ... rgo-demand

My opinion is the slow loading/unloading and high labor costs of this opoeration is just delaying when these airframes are available for the 777-300ERSF. :devil:

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:57 pm

worldranger wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
I found another, similar link on the 737-800 BCF line:
https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news ... t-softness

24 conversions delivered by February 2020
22 conversions planned for delivery in 2020.

A majority of conversions are being performed by leasing companies and this expected to be the long term trend (65% leasing company owned). Majority of use in China.

This article was before the plummet in resale values of passenger planes as a result of Convid19.

Unfortunately, we have hit a desperation for revenue from MROs, airlines, and leasing companies.

The more information I collect, the more certain I am that freighter conversions will accelerate as I become more pessimistic on the recovery of international air travel.

Lightsaber


The question is; will UPS or FedEx order the 738F/321F down the road - or will they stay with larger aircraft due growing E-commerce.

At some point they will need a 757F replacement. What aircraft will fill that role - WB or NB?

A NB will be required at some point. There are plenty of markets where a WB is way too much aircraft. Look at the regional hubs, PHL, RFD, DFW, ONT. There are wide bodies in there for the bigger markets, but most are on a 757. Not to mention there are some smaller gateways where a 757 is the biggest aircraft they can take.

I honestly think an A321F would be about the perfect airframe for 5X. Initially for expansion and then to replace the 757. They still have quite a bit of time on them, but the days of 2 turns a night are gone. The fleets are being flown harder now than they’ve ever been.
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:46 pm

aemoreira1981 wrote:
What could be a real game changer is if a B77W swing tail freighter can be developed. That would effectively replace 747 nose loading freighters.


It would be tough to do and be pressurized. The area of the rear bulkhead is 325 SF, for ease a 10 psi design pressure or 1,440 PSF is 467,664 lb so 47 bolts or lugs each holding 10,000 lb. To have a decent seal the gasket usually needs a similar clamping pressure so 47 lugs each holding 20,000 lb. That is before any bending moments from the tail are addressed.

Unpressurized would be relatively easy, similar to the Dreamlifter.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:56 pm

As example, neither the B737 nor the B757 P2F conversions or freighter have a containerized belly load. It is the same for all other P2F or freighter smallbodies in the last decades.
The A321 P2F and A320 P2F conversions do have a containerized belly load. An A321 P2F can carry additional 10 LD3-45 and the A320 P2F 7 LD3-45 containers.
As light package freighter, where volume is more important than weight, the additional belly load can be really interesting for airlines.
Does someone know, if freighter airlines are planning to use the containerized belly load of tha A321 and A320 P2F conversions? The size of the LD4-45 is different to the standard AAA/AAY of the main deck. A new additional logistic will be needed.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Wed Jul 08, 2020 12:38 am

Does anyone know how 737F/757F operators use the lower hold? My hypothesis is that smaller envelopes and mailers are put in bags and those bags go into the pit. If that's the case, ULDs don't have much of a benefit on turn times.
T4thH wrote:
As example, neither the B737 nor the B757 P2F conversions or freighter have a containerized belly load. It is the same for all other P2F or freighter smallbodies in the last decades.
The A321 P2F and A320 P2F conversions do have a containerized belly load. An A321 P2F can carry additional 10 LD3-45 and the A320 P2F 7 LD3-45 containers.
As light package freighter, where volume is more important than weight, the additional belly load can be really interesting for airlines.
Does someone know, if freighter airlines are planning to use the containerized belly load of tha A321 and A320 P2F conversions? The size of the LD4-45 is different to the standard AAA/AAY of the main deck. A new additional logistic will be needed.
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:08 am

Speaking of swing tail freighters, the DreamLifter hauled 500,000 face masks:
https://finance.yahoo.com/amphtml/news/ ... 00706.html
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Wed Jul 08, 2020 8:46 pm

Rates are dropping and are going back to normal:

https://theloadstar.com/air-freight-rat ... rises-too/

My opinion is that so many "lite conversions" occured that demand is close to being met. By close, i see enough surcharge to even convert a few more aircraft to "lite freighters." Eventually, the costs the add for loading and unloading will push them out of the market.

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:54 am

GSOtoIND wrote:
Does anyone know how 737F/757F operators use the lower hold? My hypothesis is that smaller envelopes and mailers are put in bags and those bags go into the pit. If that's the case, ULDs don't have much of a benefit on turn times.
T4thH wrote:
As example, neither the B737 nor the B757 P2F conversions or freighter have a containerized belly load. It is the same for all other P2F or freighter smallbodies in the last decades.
The A321 P2F and A320 P2F conversions do have a containerized belly load. An A321 P2F can carry additional 10 LD3-45 and the A320 P2F 7 LD3-45 containers.
As light package freighter, where volume is more important than weight, the additional belly load can be really interesting for airlines.
Does someone know, if freighter airlines are planning to use the containerized belly load of tha A321 and A320 P2F conversions? The size of the LD4-45 is different to the standard AAA/AAY of the main deck. A new additional logistic will be needed.

FX and 5X bulk load the 757's lower cargo hold.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:05 pm

Like with pax airlines, sometimes frequency of freighter aircraft may be more important than volume.they can contain and smaller aircraft are more appropriate for some markets. There is the advantage of more non-stop, point to point service by narrow body conversion aircraft so don't have to transfer to another plane or longer on the ground pick ups. That is great for 'just in time' parts movements
I would be concerned about excessive numbers of conversions and ones that may be quickly obsolete due to mx staffing, parts availability, using less efficient engines when the price of oil goes up again in a few years.
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Thu Jul 09, 2020 6:01 pm

To answer the original question on how much will the freight conversion market grow. Realistically, not much, if any long term.

While there is currently a temporary surge need for airfreight due to Covid-19; that will normalize again - especially once they get caught up enough on masks and other common supplies to start shipping them by standard ship/truck containers.

While there does appear to be a long term shift to internet purchasing and shipping... that trend has been building now for the last decade. Again, there is a temporary surge due to Covid-19.

My opinion is that long term air-frieght will return to about the historic projections within another year... and then remain within past industry norms and growth trends.

Overall; this means that long term freight conversions will be steady.

There may be some opportunistic conversions in the near future to take advantage of relatively cheap frames with good life to replace some of the oldest and most obsolete models out there (MD-11 is a likely candidate for replacement in the next 3-5 years due to the current surplus and low cost good frames to replace it).

Have a great day,
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Fri Jul 10, 2020 2:01 pm

2175301, It might not be much of a surge. Freight rates have dropped in half:
https://theloadstar.com/market-talk-tur ... e-mistake/

The economics of "light" freighters is now marginal due to the long (4 hour) loading and unloading times as well as poor space and weight utilization.

It might just be newer conversions (e.g., a 737-800 instead of a 737-400). Sad, I was hoping to see one area if aviation spike up.

I do think there us a large niche for the 777-300ERSF. Alas, it will take time to identify the size if that niche. With the price of stock dropping 33%, we should see many more conversions.

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2175301
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Fri Jul 10, 2020 2:59 pm

lightsaber wrote:
2175301, It might not be much of a surge. Freight rates have dropped in half:
https://theloadstar.com/market-talk-tur ... e-mistake/

The economics of "light" freighters is now marginal due to the long (4 hour) loading and unloading times as well as poor space and weight utilization.

It might just be newer conversions (e.g., a 737-800 instead of a 737-400). Sad, I was hoping to see one area if aviation spike up.

I do think there us a large niche for the 777-300ERSF. Alas, it will take time to identify the size if that niche. With the price of stock dropping 33%, we should see many more conversions.

Lightsaber



I'm not surprised that PPE production & normal shipping has now started to catch up... reducing the need for air-freight.

I see the 777-300 ERSF as the replacement for light cargo in the DC-10 & MD-11, and some of the 744F's Should be almost perfect for FedEx; and the low cost of the feedstock will in my opinion drive earlier retirement of the DC-10's & MD-11's than otherwise planned. Heavy cargo will still require purpose build freighters.

I think its speculative that there will be more narrow body freighter conversions than was pre-Covid-19 projected. I agree with you that the conversions that will happen will shift to newer models as they are now available.

I expect most of the recently retired passenger 767's to be eventually converted to freighters. It's just the right size - and wingspan counts in that determination. That's also why new 767F's are still in production. It's the best example of an older aircraft with a known aftermarket.

Have a great day,
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Fri Jul 10, 2020 3:19 pm

2175301 wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
2175301, It might not be much of a surge. Freight rates have dropped in half:
https://theloadstar.com/market-talk-tur ... e-mistake/

The economics of "light" freighters is now marginal due to the long (4 hour) loading and unloading times as well as poor space and weight utilization.

It might just be newer conversions (e.g., a 737-800 instead of a 737-400). Sad, I was hoping to see one area if aviation spike up.

I do think there us a large niche for the 777-300ERSF. Alas, it will take time to identify the size if that niche. With the price of stock dropping 33%, we should see many more conversions.

Lightsaber



I'm not surprised that PPE production & normal shipping has now started to catch up... reducing the need for air-freight.

I see the 777-300 ERSF as the replacement for light cargo in the DC-10 & MD-11, and some of the 744F's Should be almost perfect for FedEx; and the low cost of the feedstock will in my opinion drive earlier retirement of the DC-10's & MD-11's than otherwise planned. Heavy cargo will still require purpose build freighters.

I think its speculative that there will be more narrow body freighter conversions than was pre-Covid-19 projected. I agree with you that the conversions that will happen will shift to newer models as they are now available.

I expect most of the recently retired passenger 767's to be eventually converted to freighters. It's just the right size - and wingspan counts in that determination. That's also why new 767F's are still in production. It's the best example of an older aircraft with a known aftermarket.

Have a great day,

I agree with 767 conversions, but only if they say have over 20,000 cycles and 40,000+ hours left in the limit of Validity.

Then again, with a limit of Validity of 60,000 cycles and 150,000 hours, that leaves a lot of available stock:
http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeroma ... ticle2.pdf

IAI Bedek has made noise about their DHL order. I suspect they are not the only one busy.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/dhl-prep ... 06154.html

Wingspan is important. I believe all future Boeing aircraft will have the feature, 777x being the first.

I think express package delivery will grow enough to boost larger narrowbody (738, A321) conversions. I do wonder when, not if, Amazon starts buying new build 767Fs. But that us getting off topic.

I agree the 777-300ERSF will replace quite a few aircraft. Plus it is suitable for Amazon TPAC. So I see growth, not just replacement. Traditionally, half of aircraft are replacement and half for growth. Albeit, growth is cyclic and not worthy of discussion for years.

I think the "light freighters" will be pushed out of the market after the Chinese new year. But that us just a hunch.

Covid19 is accelerating transitions is all sorts of industries. For freight conversion, that means transitioning to a newer generation of conversions.

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:09 pm

2175301 wrote:
To answer the original question on how much will the freight conversion market grow. Realistically, not much, if any long term.

While there is currently a temporary surge need for airfreight due to Covid-19; that will normalize again - especially once they get caught up enough on masks and other common supplies to start shipping them by standard ship/truck containers.

While there does appear to be a long term shift to internet purchasing and shipping... that trend has been building now for the last decade. Again, there is a temporary surge due to Covid-19.

My opinion is that long term air-frieght will return to about the historic projections within another year... and then remain within past industry norms and growth trends.

Overall; this means that long term freight conversions will be steady.

There may be some opportunistic conversions in the near future to take advantage of relatively cheap frames with good life to replace some of the oldest and most obsolete models out there (MD-11 is a likely candidate for replacement in the next 3-5 years due to the current surplus and low cost good frames to replace it).

Have a great day,


The MD-11 is a tricky one. There really aren't any super high time or high cycle airframes out there. Engines are going to be the big thing for them. Permanent retirements have been PW powered (and there is little love for PW 767 P2Fs, so what do the operators know that we don't). The GE frames use a lot of engine hours per cargo unit compared to a 767. DL had already purchased 6 Boeing-owned MD-11Fs a few years back just for engines to use on its 767 fleet.

Even with a relatively light utilizaion of 1500 hours a year the Amazon fleet is piling around 300,000 CF-6 hours on the fleet/spares pools. Unless someone is footing the bill for expensive overhauls these trijets look more and more like good sources of green time engines, as opposed to massive resource sinks now.

On the other hand, they are capable roomy ALREADY CONVERTED freighters and that has a lot of positives going for it especially today. Lightsaber here is making a lot of noise about the 77WP2F but the fact is that for 2 more years it's about as good to freight companies as any other vaporware.

A330P2F is another puzzling one, as nobody has really bitten on it. A backlog of 15 conversions is paltry, and frankly before COVID the conversion line was operating at nowhere near its capacity, delivering at a rate of about half of what it is claimed capable for. It looks like a lot of major integrators are kicking the tires and passing on the deal.
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:41 am

lightsaber wrote:
Part of my opinion is based on years of the 777s being too expensive to buy stock and too expensive to convert. Bedek figured out a cheaper conversion (no floor beam changes) and stock is suddenly cheaper. Same with EFW and the A330.

Lightsaber

What does Bedek do to avoid floor beam changes?

Earlier airlines were happy if twins could fly long range with all seats sold.
By now all widebodies have range to feed the pigs even at MZFW. I expect transatlantic belly cargo to increase. Transpacific cargo probably mostly Anchorage.
In that sense more conversion potential for transpacific.
How much belly cargo can a B787-10 carry from New York to Frankfurt?

For short and medium distances overnight in dedicated cargo planes is just too attractive.
Because of containers in the lower cargo hold I would expect A321 to be more attractive for Amazon than B737-800. Or is that too much weight?

The B767 always amazes me.
But then cargo airlines may prefer one flight/ night while passenger airlines need frequency.

Is the B767 dirt cheap to produce or do cargo airlines already regret having ordered new B767Fs, B747-8Fs recently?
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 9:56 am

lightsaber wrote:
The time to load an auxiliary freighter, in the A340 thread, was identified for the A346 as 4 hours and 4 hours to unload. That is only viable during this crisis.

Lightsaber

LD3 must fit on pax desk easily?
 
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:03 pm

The moment I heard that Delta Airlines was grounding/retiring their entire 777 fleet, I said to myself, the MD-11's days at UPS in Louisville are now numbered...
I was working on the Louisville UPS ramp for an aircraft service company way back when Delta's DC-8-71's were being P-to-F converted and entering service.
I've been wondering for several years WHEN the 777-300 will be converted to freight with both fore and aft cargo doors. For low density (package) freight, it's perfect.
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:29 pm

Armadillo1 wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
The time to load an auxiliary freighter, in the A340 thread, was identified for the A346 as 4 hours and 4 hours to unload. That is only viable during this crisis.

Lightsaber

LD3 must fit on pax desk easily?

Shoehorn it through the pax door and find a way to strap it down without exceeding loading limits?
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:36 pm

Armadillo1 wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
The time to load an auxiliary freighter, in the A340 thread, was identified for the A346 as 4 hours and 4 hours to unload. That is only viable during this crisis.

Lightsaber

LD3 must fit on pax desk easily?

There is no door for them. These auxiliary freighters are hand loaded and unloaded. That added cist, plus how little volume and weight can be used, and the cost of the fire monitors means they are only useful until belly freight is common again.

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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:19 pm

md11sdf wrote:
The moment I heard that Delta Airlines was grounding/retiring their entire 777 fleet, I said to myself, the MD-11's days at UPS in Louisville are now numbered...
I was working on the Louisville UPS ramp for an aircraft service company way back when Delta's DC-8-71's were being P-to-F converted and entering service.
I've been wondering for several years WHEN the 777-300 will be converted to freight with both fore and aft cargo doors. For low density (package) freight, it's perfect.

Interesting how this thread and the three engine strike thread are pointing out how CF6s with green time on them are getting difficult to find.

Also our ANZ 77W thread and others suggest we'll have lots of GE90 with green time to choose from.

If the leasing companies can get no revenue from the airplane they might as well lease out engines.

Therefore it seems 77W conversion will be a sound strategy going forward.
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:28 pm

Revelation wrote:
md11sdf wrote:
The moment I heard that Delta Airlines was grounding/retiring their entire 777 fleet, I said to myself, the MD-11's days at UPS in Louisville are now numbered...
I was working on the Louisville UPS ramp for an aircraft service company way back when Delta's DC-8-71's were being P-to-F converted and entering service.
I've been wondering for several years WHEN the 777-300 will be converted to freight with both fore and aft cargo doors. For low density (package) freight, it's perfect.

Interesting how this thread and the three engine strike thread are pointing out how CF6s with green time on them are getting difficult to find.

Also our ANZ 77W thread and others suggest we'll have lots of GE90 with green time to choose from.

If the leasing companies can get no revenue from the airplane they might as well lease out engines.

Therefore it seems 77W conversion will be a sound strategy going forward.

We have been discussing this in the Amazon thread for quite a while.

It seems strange to have to park a perfectly good aircraft because nobody wants to pull the trigger on an overhaul, but someone is just gonna have to blink.

The most bizarre thing to me is even with this crunch, there is no market for PW power in freight, and FX is actively scuttling their PW MD-11 fleet.
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Armadillo1
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Re: Freighter conversion, how much will the market grow?

Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:50 pm

lightsaber wrote:
The time to load an auxiliary freighter, in the A340 thread, was identified for the A346 as 4 hours and 4 hours to unload.

Lightsaber

https://www.aircargonews.net/freighters ... rgo-fleet/
European Aviation uses a conveyor ramp and an on-board roller system for the upper deck, easing the manual loading process. “We have got our loading times right down and can unload and load in 4h,” he says.

i understand this as 4 hours total for both out and in.

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