Air Transport World

Danger: Regulatory waters ahead.

Converting a passenger aircraft into a freighter is a relatively cost-effective way to get an aircraft into cargo service-as long as FAA lets you fly it. Over the past few years, the agency has issued or threatened to issue controversial airworthiness directives that have grounded a small fleet of 747Fs and could greatly reduce the usefulness of several converted 727s.

The agency in 1996 issued AD 96-0l-03, which limited the cargo-carrying capacity of 10 747Fs that had been converted into freighters under a 10-year-old STC owned by GATX-Airlog, a company that has since ceased operation. The AD stated that until load analyses were performed to the, satisfaction of FAA, no cargo could be carried in the aft end of the aircraft near the cargo door. …

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