First-ever 787 Dreamliners repurposed for cargo operations

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With the rising global demand for cargo transportation and the need to fulfill that capacity, Kenya Airways together with Avianor have reached an agreement to repurpose Kenya Airways B787 Dreamliner aircraft for cargo operations. After successfully receiving airworthiness approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), Kenya Airways’ 787s are now the first-ever cargo converted Dreamliners in the world as of January 2021.

According to Logistics Update Africa, two Kenya B787s – from a fleet of nine – have undergone full cabin modification under the supervision and engineering certifications of Avianor. The now certified cabins have the capacity to carry up to 16 tonnes of cargo each, thus enabling the 787’s ability to conduct cargo operations holding a full payload capacity of 46 tonnes.

The airline’s venture with Avianor to repurpose part of its fleet into preighters comes as a response to the growing demand for essential and medical goods transportation and the increased need to fulfil that capacity especially within the international supply chains tied with the African continent. Allan Kilavuka, Group Managing Director and CEO of Kenya Airways addressed the development stating, “we are excited to be part of the first-ever certified cargo conversion of this type on the Boeing 787 aircraft. It demonstrates our agility, innovation and quick thinking as well as increases our cargo capability and capacity to keep essential goods moving across the globe. Kenya Airways will keep playing its role as a catalyst for economic growth in the continent, by connecting the world to Africa, and Africa to the world for both our cargo and passenger customer segments.”

With this increased freight capacity, stemming from the collaboration with Avianor, an affiliate of DRAKKAR Aerospace & Ground Transportation, Kenya Airways is aiming to support future commercial opportunities thereby incentivising activity in local and regional economies.

“Avianor’s team has been pioneering the main deck temporary cargo repurposing process in response to the need for the rapid increase in air freight cargo capacity at the onset of the pandemic. We are very excited to now be working with Kenya Airways to adopt this solution for their 787 aircraft. This represents a unique design and certification challenge, and we are thrilled to demonstrate, once again, our ability to find unprecedented solutions to customer needs,” said Matthieu Duhaime, President and CEO Avianor.

The director-general of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, Gilbert Kibe, applauded Kenya Airways’ bold initiative to innovate its operations to cater for higher freight capacities to meet demand during this challenging time for the industry.

“As passenger numbers are at an all-time low, airlines have had to look for alternative means of revenue to stay afloat. This project is economically significant as it will retain and create new jobs as well as support Kenya Airways in its recovery efforts to diversify revenues. More importantly, with the upcoming vaccination distribution, Kenya Airways has readily positioned itself to transport the vaccines destined for Africa and other destinations, therefore creating a considerable advantage for the airline and its’ safe operations” reiterated Kibe.


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