Etihad Engineering, UAE’s leading commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services provider, has announced a strategic collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to establish a facility in Abu Dhabi that will convert Boeing 777-300ER passenger planes into cargo aircraft.
For the specialized Boeing 777-300ERSF upgrade, Etihad Engineering will use its expertise and wide capabilities. Etihad Engineering will help to set up two conversion lines at the beginning of the partnership, which will be able to handle several aircraft conversions each year.
With the surge in eCommerce and the drop in the value of old planes during the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for cargo plane conversions has grown. The Boeing 777-300ERSF is not only attractive to customers but is also a technological milestone, as it is the first aircraft of its size category to offer substantial cargo options.
Etihad Aviation not only sees the demand, but views it as a greener, more profitable, highly innovative solution for its airline customers, and an excellent way to drive value for the business.
“We are delighted to announce our partnership with IAI which maximizes the potential of our highly skilled workforce and reinforces Etihad Engineering’s position as a center of excellence in Abu Dhabi in line with Abu Dhabi’s economic vision 2030. Our commitment to the P2F program demonstrates our confidence in the ability of IAI to deliver long-term value enhancement of the B777-300ER’s in the global fleet.”
IAI, a state-owned company, is currently converting Boeing 737, 747, and 767 passenger planes to cargos. It has stated that it is working on a conversion method for the Boeing 777 and intends to complete the licensing procedure by 2023. The partnership comes a year after Israel and the UAE pledged to normalize relations under the US-sponsored Abraham Accords.
Mr. Boaz Levy, President & CEO, Israel Aerospace Industries, said, “IAI is active in over 100 countries across the world. Establishing the conversion site in partnership with Etihad Engineering is a testament to IAI’s strong ties with the UAE and strengthens its foothold in the region. I am confident that this agreement will lead to many more partnerships with local companies in the Gulf States, which will grow our business in the region.”