Etihad Engineering, the largest commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services provider in the Middle East, has signed a strategic partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The pair will provide passenger-to-freighter conversions on Boeing 777-300ERs.
In 2019, IAI and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) announced the launch of the Boeing 777-300ERSF, a programme which established a conversion dubbed ‘the Big Twin’ denoting its status as the largest ever twin-engine freighter.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the aviation sector, cargo operations are offsetting operators’ losses, as it continues to play a critical role in facilitating international trade.
As a result, industry forecasts show an increase in demand for wide-body freighter aircraft with long-haul capacity.
Etihad Engineering will capitalise on their expertise and extensive capabilities for the specialised Boeing 777-300ERSF conversion.
Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “The Boeing 777-300ERSF is not only extremely attractive to customers but a technological breakthrough, given that it’s the first in its size category to offer extensive cargo solutions.
“Not only do we see the demand, but we view it as a greener, more profitable, highly innovative solution for our airline customers, and an excellent way to drive value for our business.”
In the initial stage of the partnership, Etihad Engineering will facilitate towards two conversion lines accommodating multiple aircraft conversions per year.
Boaz Levy, chief executive, Israel Aerospace Industries, said “The Abraham Accords have given IAI the opportunity to expand its global activity to the Gulf region.
“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.”