Boeing has contracted Taiwan's Evergreen Aviation Technologies (EGAT) to modify three 747-400s to Large Cargo Freighter (LCF) configuration for the transport of 787 subassemblies to the final assembly line in Everett, Washington.

The contract was signed last week in Taipei. EGAT, which is a joint venture with General Electric and owned by EVA Air's parent Evergreen Group, is negotiating a separate deal with Boeing to undertake 747-400 freighter conversions.

"Modification work will begin on the first LCF in [mid] 2005," says Boeing vice-president of manufacturing and quality for the 787 programme, Scott Strode. Roll-out is due in around April 2006, with first flight in May and certification in late 2006, in time for operations in 2007, he adds, with the fleet to be operated by a third party company.

Boeing purchased two ex-airline 747-400s late last year to convert to LCFs, to support initial 787 production, and is seeking a third candidate. The main modifications are an enlarged fuselage and a swing-tail cargo door.

Meanwhile, Boeing has added Spain's Gamesa to the LCF design team for the structure. Boeing will work with Gamesa on the engineering analysis and development of the critical "swing zone" section around the rear-loading door.

Source: Flight International