Boeing is targeting a 747-400 Freighter sale at Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) after finally securing a commitment for the type from Japan Airlines (JAL). Both Japanese carriers operate fleets of ageing 747 Classic freighters.

NCA, 21%-owned by JAL rival All Nippon Airways, has six 747-200Fs, four -200SFs and a single -100SF, all 12-17 years old and powered by General Electric CF6 engines.

Airline sources say the carrier is "now studying" an acquisition of -400Fs and aims to make a decision in the next 12 months. If an order is placed, NCA is tentatively targeting first deliveries in fiscal year 2005. Industry sources say NCA is not actively evaluating the larger Airbus A380-800F.

The airline operates intercontinental flights to Europe and the USA and would benefit from the extra payload/range capabilities of the -400F. It also operates some intra-Asian services.

JAL recently announced it will progressively replace its 10 747 Classic freighters with the -400F and has placed an initial firm order for two aircraft which will be delivered in 2004.

Source: Flight International