Boeing has launched the 737-800 converted freighter programme, with orders and commitments for up to 55 conversions.
In a statement, the manufacturer says the modifications will be done at selected facilities near conversion demand, including Boeing Shanghai.
Modifications required include the installation of a large main-deck cargo door, a cargo-handling system and accommodation for non-flying crew or passengers. The first 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017, it adds.
The aircraft will have the capacity to carry up to 52,800 pounds of cargo, and a range of about 2,000nm. Boeing says 12 pallet positions, comprising 11 standard pallets and one half-pallet, will provide 5,000 cubic feet of cargo space on the main deck. There will also be two lower-lobe compartments, which will provide a further 1,540 cubic feet of cargo space.
GECAS will provide the initial aircraft for conversion, and has also ordered five conversions. Hangzhou-based YTO Airlines and Beijing-based China Postal Airlines have meanwhile signed for 10 conversions each. YTO has also committed to 10 additional conversions. An unannounced customer meanwhile has signed for five conversions with two commitments.
Boeing adds that it has also secured a further 13 commitments from China’s SF Airlines, Bulgaria’s Cargo Air, and an unannounced customer. The 737-800 BCF will primarily be used to carry express cargo on domestic routes, it adds.
“While the recovery of the global cargo market has been slow, we see demand for freighters, such as the 737-800BCF, that will carry express cargo on domestic routes,” says Stan Deal, senior vice president, commercial aviation services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
“Over the next 20 years, Boeing forecasts customers will need more than 1,000 converted freighters the size of the 737, with China’s domestic air freight carriers accounting for nearly one-third of the total market.”