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Kenya Airways Makes History Repurposing a Boeing 787 Into a ‘Phreighter’

KQ had in 2020 modified some of its' Boeing 787s for cargo transportation but seats remained

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Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) and Avianor, have reached an agreement to collectively repurpose its aircraft cabins into cargo transportation on the Boeing 787.

According to Kenya Airways, this joint effort is a worldwide breakthrough as it is the first-ever cargo repurpose of this type to be performed on the Boeing 787, demonstrating Kenya Airways and Avianor’s role as trailblazers in the aero industry.

The repurposed cabin has been certified to carry up to 16 tonnes of cargo, potentially enabling the aircraft to reach its maximum payload while in cargo operation of 46 tonnes. The repurposing process began in December 2020 and was completed in January 2021.

This joint effort is in response to the growing demand and need for increased cargo capacity. Kenya Airways noted that it was prepared to respond to the ongoing demand for essential and medical goods and support future commercial opportunities thereby contributing to the stimulation of the local and regional economies.

“We are excited to be part of the first-ever certified cargo conversion of this type on the Boeing 787 aircraft. It demonstrates our agility, innovation, and quick thinking as well as increases our cargo capability and capacity to keep essential goods moving across the globe. Kenya Airways will keep playing its role as a catalyst for economic growth in the continent, by connecting the world to Africa, and Africa to the world for both our Cargo and Passenger customer segments,” said Allan Kilavuka, Group Managing Director & CEO, Kenya Airways.

The company has been undergoing a painful restructuring.

READ >> Kenya Airways Launches Direct Cargo Flights From Mombasa

This new collaboration demonstrates the airline’s confidence in Avianor, an affiliate of DRAKKAR Aerospace & Ground Transportation. KQ currently has nine Dreamliners in its fleet, which are primarily used for passenger flights.

 In 2020, Kenya Airways used some of its Boeing 787 aircraft for cargo transportation, aircraft seats remained, limiting the space for an increased freight capacity. With their expertise and engineering certifications, Avianor supervised Kenya Airways’ modifications on the full cabin repurposing of two of their B787.

The repurposing of this first Dreamliner has since been completed and Kenya Airways has received airworthiness approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), and will soon begin cargo flights on the first-ever repurposed certified Dreamliner in the world. 

“Avianor’s team has been pioneering the main deck temporary cargo repurposing process in response to the need for the rapid increase in air freight cargo capacity at the onset of the pandemic. We are very excited to now be working with Kenya Airways to adopt this solution for their 787 aircraft. This represents a unique design and certification challenge, and we are thrilled to demonstrate, once again, our ability to find unprecedented solutions to customer needs,” said Matthieu Duhaime, President and CEO Avianor.

On his part Captain Gilbert Kibe, Director General Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), commended Kenya Airways for taking a bold innovative step to address the need for additional capacity for cargo and facilitating trade even as the aviation industry recovers through a difficult period. 

“As passenger numbers are at an all-time low, airlines have had to look for alternative means of revenue to stay afloat. This project is economically significant as it will retain and create new jobs as well as support Kenya Airways in its recovery efforts to diversify revenues. More importantly, with the upcoming vaccination distribution, Kenya Airways has readily positioned itself to transport the vaccines destined for Africa and other destinations, therefore creating a considerable advantage for the airline and its safe operations” said Captain Kibe.

Avianor has been a leader in MRO, integration, and interior finishing of commercial and military aircraft for more than 25 years. It is located at Montreal-Mirabel International Airport (YMX). 

DRAKKAR Aerospace & Ground Transportation became a majority shareholder of the company in 2019, thus continuing its growth and position of choice within the local, national and international aerospace industry.

READ >> Kenya Airways in Talks to Return Unused Planes

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