Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI’s) plans to increase the number of sites capable of converting Boeing 777-300ERs into freighters has moved forward with the start of construction at a new location in South Korea.

IAI says that it participated in a foundation-laying ceremony alongside Incheon International airport and South Korea’s Sharp Technics K.

777-300ERSF Dubai

Source: Greg Waldron/FlightGlobal

The 777-300ERSF, in Kalitta Air livery, made its debut at the Dubai air show in November 2023

“Today is a significant milestone in the ‘Big Twin’ programme and our partnership with STK and Incheon International airport,” says Shmuel Kuzi, general manager of IAI’s aviation group.

“I appreciate our partners’ investment of time and resources in this important project, and I look forward to further developing our strategic co-operation with Korean companies and the South Korean government”.

In April 2023, IAI signed an agreement to set up a 777-300ERSF conversion facility at Seoul Incheon airport, and the foundation laying is a step towards South Korea becoming one of four conversion sites for IAI’s 777-300ERSF. 

The company already conducts conversions in Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. In Septmeber 2023, it reached a 15-year agreement under which Ascent Aviation Services will carry out the modification work on the twinjet type at its facilities in Marana, Arizona. 

IAI adds that it has “dozens” of orders and expects certification for the converted type “soon.” Lessor AerCap is a partner and customer of the programme and conducts marketing for the aircraft.

Previously, IAI has said that the 777-300ERSF will be certificated in Israel, followed by the US Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies.

Intended to replace Boeing 747 and MD-11 freighters, the 777-300ERSF has its maximum zero-fuel weight raised by 15.4t to 253t and its maximum landing weight increased to 264t – providing greater structural flexibility – while its maximum take-off weight remains unchanged at 351t.

It is fitted with a large aft freight door, with the passenger floor reinforced, smoke detectors and a roller system installed. The forward cabin has a supernumerary personnel area.

Cirium fleets data suggests there are 287 777-300ERs in service in the Asia-Pacific, with 17 in storage. In South Korea, Korean operates 25 777-300ERs.