Qantas has finally begun flying the world’s first A321 converted to carry cargo rather than passengers.
Australian Aviation photographer Dave Soda was in Melbourne last week to capture the moment the A321-231 Passenger to Freighter Conversion, VH-ULD, landed in Melbourne.
The A321P2F is operated by Qantas in partnership with Australian Post and is one of three to be delivered to the airline. The flag carrier traditionally uses its 737-300Fs for its freight services and this particular Airbus was originally delivered to British Midland in 1998 as G-MIDC.
Last year, Australian Aviation reported how Qantas and Australia Post agreed an expanded seven-year contract covering both domestic and international air freight worth $1 billion, with the A321 a part of the deal.
“Consumer preferences and expectations are rapidly changing and together with Australia Post we’re responding by growing our dedicated freighter fleet to provide a better experience for consumers and businesses,” Qantas group chief executive Alan Joyce said in a statement.
Figures from Airbus showed the A321P2F could carry up to 27.9 tonnes of cargo in a two-deck layout comprising up to 14 containers on the main deck and up to 10 containers on the lower deck. The aircraft had a range of 2,300 nautical miles.
Qantas said the A321P2F would be able to carry nine more tonnes of freight compared with its existing 737 freighters, which represented about 50 per cent more capacity.
The conversion has been led by Singapore aerospace firm ST Engineering, which partnered with Airbus and German aerospace business Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW).
The A321P2F, first landed in Australia in Perth. VH-ULD msn 00835 departed Seletar, Singapore, as flight QF7300 at 9:08am on 14 October and landed in Perth at 2:16pm.