The first Qantas freighter-to-be Airbus A321P2F was spotted performing a test flight in its final livery. The aircraft’s tail indicates that Qantas is on its way to become the first airline in the world to operate the A321 as freighter aircraft. 

The world's first Airbus A321P2F (passenger-to-freighter aircraft), destined for Qantas Freight, took off for a test flight on August 30, 2020. The aircraft departed from Seletar Airport (XSP) to make several circles, before landing back at the departure airport, as tracked on flightradar24.com.

The A321 P2F was converted from a passenger plane to a freighter at Singapore Seletar Airport under a specific plane conversion programme launched by two aerospace companies, ST Aerospace Singapore and Elbe Fleugzeugwerke (EFW) and Airbus, in 2015.

This modified configuration of A321P2F will likely receive its airworthiness authority supplemental type certificate (STC) from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the first quarter of 2020. Manufactured in May 1998, and now counting more than 22 years of operations, the A321P2F was delivered to its last/previous operator EFW in November 2019. The aircraft still keeps its German registration as D-ANJA, based on planespotters.net data. Qantas Freight is expected to put the aircraft into service in the second half of 2020, based on Airbus’ statement in February 2020. 

Airbus revealed that the modification of A321 from passenger to the P2F version involves integrating a large main deck cargo door in the forward fuselage as well as plugging the passenger windows and deactivating most passenger doors.

Converting process also requires to replace the most forward left passenger door by a smaller one due to optimisation the number of cargo positions on the main deck. Moreover, the cabin needs to be refurbished, including the installation of a rigid barrier wall, and the floor has to be reinforced, previously reported by Airbus.

As manufacturer stated, the modification of A321P2F adds nearly 50% more capacity compared to the existing Boeing 737 freighters and it might become an effective replacement for the older generation of narrow-body freighters.

According to Australian Aviation, Qantas Freight announced its plans to introduce modified Airbus A321 for its freight business as a part of an expanded agreement with Australia Post. Qantas expected to get up to three A321P2Fs to Qantas Freight fleet, with the first aircraft delivery in October 2020, as planned in August 2019.