Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Freight Conversion Changes Passenger Jets into Chinese Air Cargo Carriers

And Business is Booming for Boeing
Shipping News Feature
CHINA – When a car outlives its usefulness one cannot change it into a van, however when a passenger jet becomes a little ‘tired’ the option to convert to a freight carrier is one which is seized upon with alacrity, as Boeing’s order book in China amply demonstrates. The workhorse Boeing 737 represents the ideal tool for a cargo carrying airline and the company currently has orders and commitments for up to 55 conversions from seven Chinese based customers. Stan Deal, senior vice president, Commercial Aviation Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, explains the popularity thus:

"The Next-Generation 737 provides exceptional value to express freight carriers through its superior payload, range, reliability and efficiency. While the recovery of the global cargo market has been slow, we see demand for freighters, such as the 737-800BCF, that will carry express cargo on domestic routes. Over the next 20 years, Boeing forecasts customers will need more than 1,000 converted freighters the size of the 737, with China's domestic air freight carriers accounting for nearly one-third of the total market."

Via its freighter conversion programme, Boeing transitions passenger airplanes into freighters, extending the economic life of the airplane. The 737-800 is the first Next-Generation 737 that Boeing has offered for conversion. While large freighters carry high-density cargo on long-range routes, the 737-800BCF will primarily be used to carry express cargo on domestic routes.

The configuration of these converted 737’s can carry 23.9 tonnes with a range of almost 2,000 miles. Twelve pallet positions, 11 standard pallets and one half-pallet, provides 141.5m3 of cargo space on the main deck. This will be supplemented by two lower-lobe compartments, combined providing more than 43.7m3 of additional space.

The conversions require some comprehensive alterations, existing passenger airplanes will be modified at select facilities located near to the customers involved including Boeing Shanghai. Modifications include installing a large main-deck cargo door, a cargo-handling system and accommodation for up to four non-flying crew members or passengers. The Boeing order book shows a total of 30 firm orders and 25 commitments for the 737-800BCF and customers include:

YTO Airlines, based in Hangzhou (10 conversions, 10 commitments), China Postal Airlines, Beijing (10 conversions), GE Capital Aviation (GECAS), which will provide the initial airplane for conversion (5 conversions), whilst SF Airlines, Shenzhen and Cargo Air (based in Bulgaria) are amongst other airlines committed to taking the new freighters.