China Airlines (CAL) will return two of its four Boeing 747-200 freighters to service by early August after Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration lifted a grounding order imposed following the in-flight break-up of a CAL 747-200 passenger aircraft on 25 May.

The second two 747-200s will not fly again with CAL and will be sold.

The two aircraft being retained (B-18771 and B-18752 ) are 13 and 22 years old, respectively, and powered by Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4G2 engines. "We will get these two 747s back into service by late-July or early-August," says CAL.

The two aircraft being phased out (B-18755 and B-18753 ), are 20 and 21 years old, respectively, and are converted passenger aircraft equipped with JT9D-7Q powerplants. They will be sold "depending on the market", says CAL.

The latter pair were selected to leave the fleet because they are closest to their next scheduled heavy maintenance checks. They will be replaced by a new 747-400F.

All of the aircraft were inspected following the loss of the 747-200 - CAL's only remaining passenger 747-200 - in May. No faults were found. CAL has managed to cope without its 747-200 freighters during the traditionally slack late-May and June periods. Revenues have not suffered greatly because the resulting fall in frequencies helped to push up yields, the airline says.

Source: Flight International