As the first Boeing 747-400 Special Freighter prepares to enter its flight test programme in September, interest in the aircraft has far exceeded the manufacturer's expectations. Boeing has "increased capacity to satisfy customer demand," says Marco Cavazzoni, 747 SF programme director.

Boeing has won 33 firm orders for the 747SF passenger-to-freighter conversion with another 29 options since the programme was launched at the end of 2003.

"Because it is a 20-year project, we are running it like a production programme with all the Boeing product integrity that entails. This provides a high level of comfort for our customers as they see support for the aircraft through life of the programme," he says.

The first aircraft is being converted at Taikoo Aircraft Engineering (TAECO), a maintenance services company based in Xiamen, China in which Boeing and Cathay Pacific Airways are shareholders. It will be delivered to Cathay Pacific on 13 December, with the second conversion beginning the day after, says Cavazzoni. Conversions will take around 90 days.

During 2006 Boeing will add a second conversion line at TAECO. Some customers will have their first aircraft converted in China, with subsequent ones being converted at their own engineering bases with kits supplied by TAECO.

Source: Flight Daily News