A subsidiary of Etihad Aviation Group, Etihad Engineering, entered a strategic partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Following the agreement, signed on August 25, 2021, Etihad’s aircraft maintenance provider and Israel‘s aviation manufacturer will build a facility in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, which will offer Passenger to Freighter (P2F) conversion services on Boeing 777-ER aircraft.
Once the new aircraft conversion facility with two conversion lines will be established, Etihad Engineering should be able to conduct multiple passenger aircraft conversions per year. Tony Douglas, the Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, described the partnership with IAI as “an excellent way to drive value for [its] business,” and outlined that the decision over this particular type of passenger aircraft conversation was made after an assessment of the Boeing 777-300ERSF attractiveness for cargo airlines.
“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,” Douglas was quoted saying in the group’s statement. “Not only do we see the demand, but we view it as a greener, more profitable, highly innovative solution for our airline customers.”
Meanwhile, the Israel-owned IAI has already gained experience in the structural modification of the 777-300ERSF jet since 2019, when it started cooperation with the lessor GECAS. Currently, the company is focused on a few Boeing passenger plane conversions into cargo jets, including such types as the 737s, the 747s, and the 767s. IAI is about to obtain its license for the Boeing 777 aircraft conversion in 2023.
The recent agreement between two companies is expected to bring strong economic benefits for both countries involved, as well as to add “a significant tier” to the relations between the UAE and Israel since Etihad Engineering participates in the P2F program, dedicated to delivering a long-term value enhancement of the B777-300ERs in various airlines fleets globally.
“I have no doubt following this agreement, additional agreements with companies in the region will arrive, and they will economically benefit the sides involved,” Yossi Melamed, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of IAI, outlined.