Boeing Airplane Services (BAS) is in talks with two "US operators" over the potential launch of a 737-300SF (special freighter) conversion programme that it believes could eventually cover up to 400 modifications.

The move represents a second effort by Boeing to develop a CFM International CFM56-powered 737 cargo conversion package, having previously teamed with Pemco, the Dothan, Alabama-based modification specialist in the early 1990s. In the earlier 737 freighter venture, Pemco held the supplemental type certificate (STC), and converted both new and secondhand 737-300s to freighter and quick change versions. This time Boeing is aiming to undertake the work itself using BAS facilities, and hold the STC.

The latest 737-300SF discussions take place as Boeing builds up to launch its 767-200SF conversion, design of which is now 100% complete.

To help implement the programme, Boeing Airplane Services has signed up Aeronavali, a Finmeccanica company, as a partner for the conversion.

Under its newly-signed memorandum of understanding with Boeing, Aeronavali will provide passenger-to-freighter modifications, kits, tool design and fabrication as well as engineering support.

Boeing believes around half the 226 767-200s built could eventually be converted into -200SFs over the next 20 years.


Meanwhile, work on the first of 44 27t payload 757-200SF conversions for DHL is running almost six months ahead of schedule, says BAS president, Joe Gullion. "We think we will deliver the first 757-200SF around 21 December, and it looks like we will meet that date," he says.

The first of at least 34 former British Airways 757s is undergoing modification at BAS' Wichita plant, with the section of fuselage having been removed that will be replaced with a cargo door. The 6.1m x 6.7m (20ft x 20ft) cargo door surround structure is being manufactured by Boeing in Renton.

Source: Flight International