Boeing Airplane Services (BAS) has begun studies of a 767-300SF (special freighter) modification programme as it prepares to launch the 767-200SF following the completion of engineering work.

Mike Stewart, BAS passenger to freighter conversion vice president, says "...we are looking at a -300SF, though we have not started engineering work on it. We are just looking at what's required, and what it would take from a structural point of view." The study will involve Aeronavali of Italy, a long- term partner on the 767, and a signed up "alliance partner" on the -200SF effort, which could be launched in the next few months.

BAS expects the 767-300SF conversion to exceed the $7.5 million list price of the 757-200SF and the $10 million-plus cost of the 767-200SF.

Boeing has produced 33 new build 767-300Fs which are in service with three carriers - UPS Airlines, LanChile and Asiana. "The intention would be to use the production 767-300F cargo door, which will help shorten the flow," says Stewart. He adds that the timing of the programme will be affected by fluctuations in the residual value of the newer aircraft.

The oldest 767-300s in service are approaching 14 years of age, and the first examples are likely to start to be released from passenger operators for cargo conversion within the next couple of years. The converted aircraft would fill the vacuum left by the large-scale buy-up of DC-10s by FedEx, and would also be a viable replacement for the Airbus A300 freighter with carriers such as DHL.

BAS adds that it is too early in the study to identify the potential payload of the -300SF, particularly as the 767-300 has a complex build history with at least three different wing configurations and weights. The plan is to get as close as possible to the 50.8t maximum payload capacity of the production -300F, it says.

Source: Flight International