Boeing has launched an after-market re-engining programme for the Boeing 747, following a contract received from Atlas Air for the modification of two aircraft.

The company has awarded Boeing a contract to re-engine two Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7J-powered 747-200Fs with the General Electric CF6-50E2. As well as bringing the aircraft in line with its GE-powered fleet, the CF6 will provide increased performance and fuel efficiency.

The Colorado-based cargo airline's all-Boeing 747-200 freighter fleet totals 17 aircraft, powered predominantly by the CF6-50. The airline's expanding fleet of new 747-400Fs is also equipped with GE CF6-80C2s.

The modification requires the creation of a new supplemental type certificate (STC) which will be held by Boeing. The work will be undertaken at its Wichita Modification Center in Kansas, where the company already carries out 747 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 passenger to cargo modifications.

The first Atlas aircraft is due to arrive in Wichita for re-engining next February, and the second in April. It is expected that it will take around 60 days to complete the work on each aircraft.

The STC will also cover the installation of revised engine struts and other system changes, says Boeing. Other than the 747 prototype, only two 747s have ever undergone a major re-engining programme - the two 747-200E-4s operated by the US Air Force were originally delivered with JT9D powerplants before being re-engined with the CF6 in 1976.

"Boeing Airplane Services foresees a substantial market for additional 747-200s to be re-engined," says centre director Vic McMullen. Some 500 of the 747 classics remain in service, many of them in the cargo role. Of the 420 -200/300s in operation, some 240 are JT9D-powered.

Source: Flight International