Boeing believes it will have booked at least 30 firm orders for its 747-400 Special Freighter passenger-to-freighter aircraft conversion by the end of the year.

Since Cathay Pacific Airways launched the programme in January with an order for six conversions, Boeing has won a deal for four aircraft from Nippon Cargo Airlines and Korean Air has committed to 20 conversions.

In total, Boeing has 15 firm orders for the full conversion plus orders for eight conversion kits, says Marty Bentrott, vice-president services, sales and marketing for Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. It has three customers in advanced discussions about a further 10 conversions and four kits, he says, and it is possible an order may be announced here at the show.


"In total, we have 20 additional aircraft in the pipeline, primarily from Asian customers, but there is also interest from European carriers and lessors," says Bentrott.

The company has already exceeded its sales targets. "We had anticipated booking firm orders for 13 conversions this year," he says.

The demand for 747 conversions is picking up partly because of the strength of the cargo market, especially for Asian carriers, says Bentrott. In addition, the residual value of the 747-400 is reaching the point where it makes economic sense to consider the type in a dedicated freight role.

"Boeing has also created the right opportunity with our partner TAECO to provide the market with a full conversion and the kit, so customers can choose to do their own," he explains. China's Taikoo (Xiamen) Aircraft Engineering (TAECO), which is partly owned by Boeing and Cathay Pacific, conducts the conversions on behalf of Boeing.

The 747-400SF has a list price of $25 million, while the kit retails at $20 million.

Source: Flight Daily News