FAA likely to certify Pemco’s 737-700 conversion program soon

aircraft conversion

Pemco Conversions expects to receive Federal Aviation Administration certification of its new Boeing 737-700 passenger-to-freighter conversion program in early 2020 and will begin engineering work on its next offering in the second quarter.

Pemco successfully completed flight testing for its FlexCombi configuration last week, and the company hopes to have all remaining paperwork submitted to the FAA by Jan. 3, said Mike Andrews, director of conversion programs at Pemco. Once the FAA receives the material, it has 90 days to review the package and issue a supplemental type certificate, he added.

Texel Air, a non-scheduled cargo carrier that is a subsidiary of Bahrain-based Chisholm Enterprises, is the launch customer for the 737-700FC and will operate the aircraft from Bahrain International Airport.

The Pemco 737-700FC offers three configurations: 

  • A 24-passenger cabin with a 2,640-cubic-foot cargo hold that can handle 30,000 pounds of payload in six pallet positions;
  • A 12-person passenger cabin with a 3,005-cubic-foot cargo hold for 35,000 pounds of payload in seven positions; and,
  • A freight-only mode that has a 3,370-cubic-foot hold with a payload capacity of 40,000 pounds in eight pallet positions.

Converting the aircraft from one configuration to another takes the operator about 24 hours and entails moving the partition between the passenger cabin and cargo hold, swapping out the overhead bins, which are on a quick-change system, and adding or removing the passenger seats, which are on pallets and can be moved through the main cargo door, Andrews said.

The FlexCombi will serve a niche market. A likely use is by charter companies that transport dignitaries and VIPs and that need to move people and their equipment, he said.

In the second quarter, Pemco plans to begin certification work on a full freighter version of the 737-700 that will be able to handle up to 45,000 pounds of payload in nine pallet positions and have a total volume of 3,844 cubic feet. Andrews said certification of the full freighter will take nine to 12 months and will be an amendment to the FlexCombi certificate.

Airborne Maintenance & Engineering Services, a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group, acquired Tampa, Florida-based Pemco in early 2017. Pemco specializes in 737-300 and -400 conversions and now is moving into the newer -700s.