Can you transform a cargo plane for passenger use? (just for the weekend)

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Are you serious?

Well, that is exactly what UPS executives asked in the 1990s when they realised that many of their ‘planes were sat idle over the weekend. I stumbled across this really interesting article recently, that is well worth a read:

UPS 727 Passenger Flights

(TL;DR – Install seats and overhead bins on a Friday afternoon, fly some punters somewhere hot, remove seats and bins on a Monday morning and get back to ferrying parcels)

I found this article really interesting, and frankly rather amazing, especially this YouTube video.

Not sure I’d have been happy sat next to that big cargo door!

I can’t imagine it happening now, in fact the modern equivalent would probably go something like this;

  • Aircraft is stripped off all seats and bins
  • Leased on short-term to cargo airline
  • Seats are ‘densified’ onto pallets
  • Aircraft is returned from cargo airline
  • New seating pallets are installed along with most of the overhead bins

Too cynical?

Further Information is also a good source of technical aviation information for novice AVGeeks. If you’ve ever wondered what the different lights on aircraft or runways are for, that’s covered. Along with seat belts, transatlantic navigation, go-arounds and ETOPS (which turns out doesn’t actually stand for Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim!). Who knew?

What’s in it for me?

Er, nothing really! No bonus points earning opportunities, no bargain premium cabin fares, we just thought it was interesting.

Normal programming will resume shortly.





  1. Graeme says

    This is not just an odd idea from the 90s – there’s still plenty of examples of such ‘quick change’ aircraft. With a side cargo door and roll on/off seating, it’s entirely possible to switch modes for flying cargo by night and passengers by day; no need to lease out the frame to another company after a refit as you describe. The tradeoff is that the cargo doors add a lot of weight which impacts range, but at least as recently as the ‘Inside Edinburgh Airport’ documentary (2014 I think?) Jet2 considered it viable, as you can see here:

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