A new system from cargo handling specialist Telair will enable the lower deck of narrowbody aircraft to convert quickly for different cargo requirements. According to Telair, the first-of-its-kind Modular Cargo Loading System will provide operators and leasing companies the flexibility to convert lower deck cargo holds from bulk-loading operation to containerized cargo operation and vice versa during overnight maintenance stops.
“Our engineers have been pushing the idea of a modular and reconfigurable cargo system for quite some time,” explains Marko Enderlein, CEO, Telair International. “As the aerospace market continues to grow strongly, and airlines are being increasingly challenged to be flexible to varied loads, the time had come to develop the Modular Cargo Loading System.”
Built for Airbus A320 family aircraft, the modularized lower deck cargo system consists of pre-assembled floor modules that can be reconfigured within a few hours to accommodate full bulk or containerized cargo loading freight. According to Telair, the modules have roughly the same footprint as the AKH-type (LD3-45W) A320-series container and can be easily handled by two mechanics during the reconfiguration process.
Since the modules come pre-assembled rather than in individual parts—which have traditionally been provided by different suppliers—Telair says first installation and a change of the system by certified MROs can be completed during an overnight maintenance stop within a matter of hours. The system was developed as a post-delivery modification or retrofit conversion for the A320, but Telair declined to share whether it was pursuing similar solutions for other narrowbody aircraft types.
Enderlein says the system will help airline fleet groups, leasing companies and conversion houses optimize fleet performance and reduce operational costs. For leasing companies in particular, Telair believes the system will increase residual value of aircraft, since they will not be restricted to traditional lower-deck cargo compartment utilizations.
The Modular Cargo Loading System is scheduled for certification in the first quarter of 2020 and the Lufthansa Group has ordered more than 100 systems. These will be installed on the group’s new A320 and A321neo aircraft over the next six years starting in mid-2020.