Manufacturer reveals payload details of design based on ultra-long-range -200LR, as -300ER wins certification

Boeing has revealed further details of its studies into the development of a 777 freighter, which would be based on the ultra-long-range -200LR variant and would have a payload up to 20,000kg (44,000lb) greater than that of the Boeing MD-11F.

Initial details of the study, which is designated the -200LRXF, show that the aircraft would have an overall payload capability of between 100,000kg and 110,000kg, compared with 90,000kg for the MD-11F. "It is still at the very early stages," says the company, which is yet to officially define a possible entry-into-service target date.

The study of a freighter variant of the General Electric GE90-115B-powered longer-range 777 derivatives comes as a result of "expressions of interest from a number of operators", says the company. EVA Airways and Lufthansa Cargo have both shown interest in a freighter version of the 777 (Flight International, 22-28 April 2003).

Details of the -200LRXF emerge as Boeing completes US Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification of the 777-300ER after an 11-month flight-test programme.

Reviewing the effort, Lars Andersen, longer range 777 programme manager, says: "The performance of the aircraft came out much better than expected." He also says the programme was notable for the "small number of issues we encountered".

The effort involved three 777-300ER flight test aircraft and nearly 1,500 flight- and 1,000 ground-test hours, beginning with the first flight on 24 February 2003.

International Lease Finance (ILFC) customer Air France will receive the first 777-300ER in April. Boeing has so far received orders for 63 777-300ERs from eight customers, but Andersen says: "We think there's going to be some more campaigns this year." The FAA and EASA certifications cover an amended type certificate for the 777, as well as a production certificate, which authorises Boeing to build the 777-300ER.

The flight-test programme for the -200LR is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2005, but is expected to be shortened in scale to take into account the minimum changes between the aircraft and the already certificated -300ER.

The major new features of the two versions principally include the GE90-115B engines and raked wingtips on both models, and the tail strike protection system and the semi-levered landing gear on the -300ER.

The -200LR has an auxiliary fuel tank system and new, strengthened gear, but not the -300ER's semi-levered system.

Airbus technical marketing director Colin Evans says that the proposed development of an A330 freighter has "had to go on the backburner" because of A380 demands. "Airbus is stretched design-wise and production-wise," he says. Airbus forecasts a market for around 150 new-build 50,000-80,000kg payload freighters over the next two decades.


Source: Flight International