Brazilian airline Azul has introduced the first cabin freighter for an Embraer 195 aircraft following a reconfiguration that involved removing the seats.
The ability to use the main deck and lower hold more than doubles the aircraft’s cargo capacity to 16.5 tons, improving efficiency and reducing carbon emissions because fewer flights will be required to move orders.
Use of cargo-only passenger aircraft was widespread for a year after the start of the COVID pandemic as airlines tried to repurpose equipment idled by the elimination of most air travel, but has diminished with the recovery in passenger business and higher fuel prices.
Azul said Wednesday that Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency on Feb. 1 certified the E195 as a Class F freighter, meaning it can transport cargo in the cabin in heat and fire-resistant containers. The company said it has added an innovative thermal fire detection system in the cabin to further enhance safety.
Engineering outfit LHColus Tecnologia conducted the cabin modification for Azul, including design and test flights.
Company officials say the E195 mini-freighter is well suited for the Brazilian market.
Azul, the largest airline in Brazil by flight departures and cities served, has a fleet of 160 aircraft, including 56 Embraer E1 family jets, and operates to more than 140 destinations.
Azul Cargo posted record third-quarter sales with revenue up 135% to $61 million from the same period in 2019. The company said it expects to double cargo revenue for 2021 over 2019 with the help of new customers using airfreight to reduce delivery times. All the revenue is from cargo carried in the belly of passenger aircraft.
Azul reports fourth quarter and full year 2021 results on Feb. 24.
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