IAI to establish Boeing 777 conversion facility in South Korea

The move comes amid an expected increase in demand for widebody freighter aircraft with long-haul flight capability

Photo: IAI

The Aviation Group of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a Memorandum of Agreement on Wednesday with Incheon International Airport and Sharp Technics to establish a passenger-to-cargo conversion site in South Korea. The facility will specialize in converting the Boeing 777-ERSF, known as the Big Twin, from a passenger aircraft into a freighter. Within the framework of the agreement, IAI will convert six B777-300ERs and B777-200LRs per year, starting in 2024. It is considered necessary to establish more aircraft conversion facilities around the world in order to meet the expected rise in demand for widebody freighter aircraft with long-haul flight capability.

IAI's Aviation Group is working around the clock to develop the B777 conversion, and is expected to conclude the licensing process during 2023. The B777, the next generation of freighter aircraft, will join the IAI family of converted aircraft including the B747, B767, B737NG, and the B737 classic.

Yossi Melamed, VP and GM of IAI's Aviation Group, said "IAI's Aviation Group is a world-class leader in converting wide-body passenger aircraft to freighter, and manages conversion lines in Israel and around the world. Signing today with Incheon International Airport and Sharp is directly connected to IAI's close cooperation with the South Korean aviation industry, and highlights IAI's trust and respect in South Korea's ability to establish a conversion line to meet demand, along with the necessary trained manpower. Over the past few years IAI has transferred production of business jet wings, main frame, and parts of the tail to Korean companies. I look forward to expanding our strategic cooperation activities with South Korean companies and government authorities."

President Kim Kyung-wook of Incheon International Airport Corporation said “By attracting the first overseas production base of IAI's large-sized cargo aircraft to the Incheon Airport MRO cluster, which exclusively possesses the technology for retrofitting Boeing’s large passenger aircraft, we will grow together and contribute greatly to the development of the national and regional economy. Based on the world-class air transportation infrastructure of Incheon International Airport, we will continue to attract world-class aviation MRO companies to Incheon Airport. We plan to contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of the Korean aviation industry.”

CEO & President Soon-Suk Paik of Sharp Technics K said "The conversion of cargo aircraft requires tremendous investment costs, advanced technology, international certifications, and skilled aviation maintenance personnel, which reflect the high barriers to entry in the MRO industry. Although STK is a private company, as a member of the aviation industry, we will do our best in the private sector with the vision of contributing to the development and national interests of the Korean aviation industry."

IAI is a national and global technology hub in the areas of assault missiles, air defense, radars, satellites, remotely manned aircraft, aviation and cyber. The company has extensive operations in South Korea focused on aircraft and helicopter maintenance, airborne and ground-based radar systems, navigation and optronics systems and UAVs. Over the next few years, collaborations will also be expanded to mission aircraft, strategic UAVs and VTOL UAVs and roving and accurate armament systems.

IAI’s Aviation Group, one of the leaders in converting widebody passenger aircraft into freighters, is responsible for maintenance (MRO), jet airplanes, passenger into cargo conversions, avionic assemblies and aero-structures, avionics upgrades, and more. The Aviation Group's customers include Amazon, DHL and FedEx, among others.

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