Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) may soon resume the operation of its Boeing 747-400 conversion line. The company says it has recently received several inquiries for 747-400 conversions and negotiations with some potential customers are underway.
IAI is evaluating the new potential in view of a global need for high volume freighter capacity, which coincides with the low prices of fuel and no reasonable availability of parked aircraft in the desert.
The Bedek Group of IAI delivered two 747-400 conversions in 2017 to the South Korean Asiana Airlines and converted 29 747-400s to Bedek Designed Special Freighter (BDSF) configuration from 2005-11.
In parallel, in 2017 IAI delivered 18 Boeing 767-300 converted aircraft, which are needed in a booming e-commerce market, and three converted 737-700NGs.
According to IAI, the conversion period for a 747-400 aircraft is about 120 days, which is often used by customers to set the maintenance clock to "0," by doing a heavy check, landing gears or engine replacements, and avionics installations such as flat panel displays and satcom. Bedek started its last 747-400 conversion in the first quarter of 2017.
Bedek customers for cargo conversions are airlines that own the aircraft and lessors that lease the cargo aircraft to an airline/operator for another 15-20 years of service, creating revenue for both sides and providing the high cargo capacity demand in the market.