Israel Aircraft Industries announced on Monday that it will structurally modify four Boeing 777-300 passenger aircraft to carry heavy cargo on the upper deck for Canadian cargo carrier Cargojet. confirmed by independent FreightWaves reports.

The 777 is a larger aircraft than the Cargojet (TSX: CJT) is currently operating and opening the door to long-term business in Asia. The airline publicly announced in November that it would purchase refurbishment services for two 777-200 aircraft at the launch of aviation engineering firm Mammoth Freighters, but quietly then implemented two aircraft options and placed an order with Israel Aircraft Industries. The IAI statement makes the order, which includes the rights to purchase more aircraft, official and brings up to eight aircraft the projected fleet of Cargojet 777.

Cargojet operates as an express airline in Canada for companies such as Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), FedEx (NYSE: FDX), UPS (NYSE: UPS) and Purolator, and provides customized air transportation for other customers with a fleet of 31 trucks, mostly medium wide-body 767.

Michigan-based Kalitta Air will receive the first 777-300 from the IAI production line sometime in the first half of 2023 after aviation regulators confirm that the aircraft is safe for flights with a package of structural modifications. The IAI wrote on Twitter that the first prototype 777 cargo plane is completing the conversion process. The aerospace and defense company converted two more 777s for Kalitta and four for the Emirates.

Last year, the IAI created additional conversions in Abu Dhabi, Ethiopia and South Korea. Etihad Engineering, part of the Etihad Aviation Group in Abu Dhabi and the largest maintenance center in the Middle East, will redesign Emirates aircraft under contract with the IAI.

The expansion of conversion centers suggests that the IAI has far more conversion orders for the 777-300 than is publicly acknowledged. Last year, announcing the production of South Korean production, partner Sharp Technics will upgrade six aircraft 777-300 Extended Range and 777-200 Long Range per year, starting in 2024.

AerCap, the world’s largest aircraft leasing company, provides aircraft that are remanufactured by the IAI and then leases them to carriers that carry out all cargo transportation. The lessor’s freight chief recently said the Big Twin program, so named because of the aircraft’s twin-engine capabilities, has already received 50 orders and pre-commitments, with more customers yet to be revealed. According to a CargoFacts report.

Conversion work includes the dismantling of the cabin interior and the installation of reinforced beams and floor panels, wide cargo doors, a protective barrier behind the cab and a cargo handling system for maneuvering large containers.

Click here for more FreightWaves / American Shipper stories by Eric Kulish.

Related news:

The Canadian Cargojet has quietly quadrupled its order to 777 cargo ships

777 rebuilt aircraft: Mammoth Freighters takes on the “Big Twin”

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 In the list of carriers for rent FedEx (No. 1) and UPS (No. 2).

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