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Air Canada reconfigures three planes to transport more cargo and supplies

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    MONTREAL — With most flights grounded and airline work slashed, Air Canada is reconfiguring the passenger cabins of three of its aircraft so it can transport more supplies and cargo.

    Three Boeing 777-300ER, the largest aircraft in Air Canada’s fleet, will hold double the cargo capacity with the new modifications — that’s 89.63 tonnes or the equivalent of up to nine million medical masks.

    Aircraft reconfiguration

    all images: Air Canada

    The three planes are being converted by Avianor, an aircraft maintenance and cabin integration specialist at its facility in Mirabel, Que.

    Avianor developed a plan to remove 422 passenger seats and create cargo loading zones for light-weight boxes containing medical equipment and restrained with cargo nets.

    Air Canada said in a news release Saturday that the modification was developed, produced and implemented within six days.

    The first aircraft conversion is now in service and the other two are expected within the coming days.

    Aircraft reconfiguration 2

    The conversion was overseen by Air Canada’s engineering team, and certified and approved by Transport Canada.

    "Bringing critical medical and other vital supplies rapidly to Canada and helping distribute them across the country is imperative to combating the COVID-19 crisis,” said Tim Strauss, vice president of cargo at Air Canada, adding that it will “enable more goods to move more quickly.”

    There have been 40 all-cargo flights since March 20 with 20 planned per week with the addition of the newly converted planes that would otherwise be parked.

    Aircraft reconfiguration 3

    Nearly half of Air Canada’s 36,000 employees lost their jobs as air traffic plummeted due to COVID-19, but this week, the company said it plans to rehire 16,500 laid-off workers via Ottawa’s emergency wage subsidy, though the vast majority will remain at home.

    – With files from The Canadian Press

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