As the Coronavirus swept across the world and airlines grounded aircraft, the belly-freight capacity passenger variants provide vanished. To solve this, operators and manufacturers stepped in to come up ways of removing the seats and attaching freight to the floor.
We've put together three examples of what it looks like both before and after the transition has been made.
British Airways Boeing 777
British Airways removed the seats and stripped the interiors of two of its grounded 777-200 fleet so the aircraft can operate as freighters.
The examples in question were G-YMMK (c/n 30312) and G-YMMG (c/n 30308). The first voyage of these aircraft in the new configuration was to Beijing where they collected PPE for the NHS. The aircraft are also set to be used to carry other essential goods like food and medicine to the UK where required, alongside regular commercial shipments.
The Bombardier Q400 is a versatile twin-turboprop airliner usually found connecting smaller cities to larger hubs all over the world. They're not what you would typically think would be good at carrying cargo. But, during the COVID-19 pandemic India's SpiceJet has converted three of its Bombardier Q400 passenger aircraft into freighters.
The turboprops, which usually have space for 78 passengers in a single-class configuration, had their seats removed and now each have a cargo capacity of 8.5 tons.
Air Canada Boeing 777
Air Canada has temporarily reconfigured three of its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from passenger to freight setups in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The three examples were converted by Avianor, an aircraft maintenance and cabin integration specialist, at its Montreal-Mirabel facility. Avianor developed a specific engineering solution to remove 422 passenger seats and designate cargo loading zones for light weight boxes containing medical equipment and restrained with cargo nets.
The modification was developed, produced and implemented within six days.
Emirates Boeing 777
Emirates introduced additional cargo capacity by using its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with seats removed from the economy class cabin.
The airline's freight division, Emirates SkyCargo will be operating ten of the type allowing for up to 17 tonnes or 132 cubic metres of additional cargo capacity per flight on top of the 40-50 tonne cargo capacity in the belly hold of the widebody passenger aircraft.
If you're interested in finding out more about the decision making process surrounding the conversion of a passenger aircraft to freight, then we've got just the article for you. Key.Aero spoke to Airbus about how they supported their customers with the transition, read it here: https://www.key.aero/article/coronavirus-cargo-conundrum