Filing reveals 777 freighter conversion talks between FedEx and Boeing

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A recent regulatory filing by FedEx signals active communications between the carrier and Boeing

regarding the development of the 777 Boeing Converted Freighter, which would be built on the 777-200 and -200ER passenger aircraft.

In its quarterly report FedEx cites correspondence dated 2 December 2008 with the subject "Notification for a Boeing 777 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) Proposal" between Richard Ochs Boeing Regional Director of Aircraft Contracts and Kevin Burkhart, Managing Director of Aircraft Acquisitions & Sales for FedEx.

The filing redacted the contents of the correspondence providing no additional details beyond the reference in the letter's subject line, though it refers to a "Letter Agreement" on the 777 Boeing Converted Freighter.

A FedEx spokesperson declined to elaborate on the reference to the aircraft in the company's filing, but added that there are no plans to purchase a converted 777 freighter, and reaffirmed the company's intention to purchase 30 original-build 777 freighters.

FedEx holds 15 additional options for 777F aircraft.

Boeing first revealed it was undertaking cargo conversion development studies for the 777 in September of last year.

Boeing said a 777 conversion programme is still in the preliminary phase as a development study.

A Boeing spokesman added that there's no timeline for a programme launch but suggested that a 777 BCF probably would not be available to customers until the middle of the next decade, around the time earliest 777 aircraft would be entering their third decade of service.

When first disclosed, Boeing showed the 777-200ER BCF offering a revenue payload of roughly 180,000lbs (81.6t), give or take about 15,000lbs, and a payload for the shorter-range 777-200 BCF of roughly 145,000lbs (65.8t), again give or take about 15,000lbs.

In comparison, the 777 Freighter, which entered service with Air France in February has a revenue payload of 226,800lbs (103t).

At the time, Boeing stressed that these figures are very preliminary. "We haven't tied down the specific capabilities yet," he says. "We're working with a spread and we're not ready to discuss specific numbers yet."