December 11, 2019 / 7:12 AM / 8 months ago

Qantas grounds 4 freighters converted from passenger jets by Israeli Aerospace Industries

SYDNEY, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Qantas Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it had taken four Boeing Co 737 freighter aircraft out of service while awaiting further advice from Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) about a potential defect with a part within the cabin.

IAI had converted the four 737-300 planes from passenger jets to freighters for the Australian airline in 2006. Qantas operates the planes, which have an average age of 33 years, on domestic cargo routes.

An IAI spokeswoman said she had no immediate comment.

Qantas said the affected part is a rigid barrier at the front of the cargo cabin which is an additional safety feature separating freight from the cockpit.

It was installed during the conversion from a passenger plane to a freighter, not while the aircraft was manufactured, so it is not part of the flight critical systems on the plane.

A Qantas spokesman said the grounding was not expected to affect parcel deliveries in the season leading up to Christmas.

“We have a number of contingencies in place, including access to cargo space on passenger flights and leasing aircraft from other operators, so we aren’t anticipating delays in freight reaching its destination,” the spokesman added. (Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney, additional reporting by Tova Cohen in Tel Aviv; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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