Newly-christened Boeing Converted Freighter heralds US manufacturer’s first overseas certification campaign

The first-ever certification test programme for a Boeing aircraft to be performed outside the USA is set to begin from Hong Kong on 1 October, with the initial flight test of a 747-400 Boeing Converted Freighter (previously designated Special Freighter).

The aircraft, which was converted from passenger to cargo configuration in China for 747-400BCF programme launch customer Cathay Pacific Airways, was handed over to Boeing’s flight-test division on 19 September.

The aircraft is to be ferried from Xiamen, where the conversion work was performed, to Hong Kong between 28 and 30 September before flight testing begins on 1 October, says Cathay engineering director Derek Cridland. “There is a large area south of Hong Kong where there is free airspace, so there is a lot of room,” he says.

A total of 22 flights are planned, amounting to 112h of flying time, says Cridland. The plan is for the flight-test programme to be completed around the middle of November, after which the aircraft will return to Xiamen so engineers can “finish things off”. The freighter is scheduled to enter service with Cathay in early to mid-December.

“The aeroplane will be flown by Boeing test pilots. A Cathay pilot will be on there as well,” says Cridland. “The FAA is on site at Xiamen at appropriate times and will be part of the flight tests.”

Most of the flying will take place in Hong Kong-controlled airspace, although one of the longer flights, for which the aircraft is required to fly straight and level for an extended period, will be through Philippine airspace.

Conversion work took place at Cathay associate Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering between the end of April and early September.

The aircraft has a side cargo door identical to that of the 747-400F production freighter, strengthened main-deck floor, full main-deck lining, provisions for a new cargo handling system and revised flightdeck systems. The floor of the upper passenger deck has also been shortened.


Source: Flight International