Boeing has officially launched a passenger to freighter conversion programme for the Next-Generation 737.
Under its Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) programme – available initially on 737-800 only – the manufacturer will take existing airframes and modify them for use in the air cargo role. This includes the installation of a large main-deck cargo door, a cargo handling system and seating for up to four passengers.
These changes will create 5,000cu ft (141.5m3) of space on the main deck – sufficient for 11 standard pallets and one half pallet – in addition to the aircraft’s two standard belly holds. In this configuration, the jet will be able to carry up to 52,800lb (23,900kg) of cargo over almost 2,000nm (3,960km).
Unveiling the initiative in Shanghai on February 24, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ Senior Vice President, Commercial Aviation Services, Stan Deal, said: “The Next-Generation 737 provides exceptional value to express freight carriers through its superior payload, range, reliability and efficiency.” He added: “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.”
The 737-800BCF programme has already secured 30 firm orders and 25 commitments, including ten conversions apiece for Hangzhou-based YTO Airlines and China Postal Airlines, plus five for lessor GE Capital Aviation and a further five for an unnamed customer. The US manufacturer has also received commitments from SF Airlines of China and Sofia-based Cargo Air. The first example is expected to be delivered in late 2017.