Boeing is opening two additional lines for B737/B767 passenger to freighter (P2F) conversions in Guangzhou, China, and Singapore.
The move is based on what Boeing says is “strong market demand,” as the US air-framer announced a firm order from an unidentified customer for two B737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF). This now takes orders for the converted freighter to 134 orders and commitments.
The new B737-800BCF line at Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company Limited (GAMECO) is scheduled to open in early 2021, marking the MRO’s second conversion line for the aircraft type. The first production line began operations in June. To date, Boeing has delivered 36 B737-800BCFs to more than 10 operators across four continents.
Boeing will also add a second conversion line for its widebody converted freighter, the B767-300BCF, at ST Engineering’s facility in Singapore. The second line is scheduled to open later this year.
“The freighter conversion programme is an excellent way to double the life of an airplane and provide operators with an economical way to replace less efficient freighters,” says Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of Commercial Sales and Marketing for Boeing.
“By working with our partners to add freighter conversion capacity, we look forward to meeting the strong demand in this market segment and helping our customers scale their operations.”
In Guangzhou, GAMECO general manager Norbert Marx comments: “The addition of the new production line demonstrates our ability to quickly respond to market trends and requirements and is a testament to the skill and professionalism of the entire GAMECO-Boeing team.”
And in from Singapore Lim Serh Ghee, president (Aerospace) of ST Engineering adds: “Our strong talent pool, operational flexibility and existing infrastructure allow us to adapt quickly to evolving market needs and render the necessary support to our partners and customers. We take pride in our partnership with Boeing and, with the opening of an additional line later this year, look forward to continuing to deliver timely and quality freighter conversions.”
Boeing also has existing B737-800 conversion lines at Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services and Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Company (STAECO).
Other licensed third-party conversion companies competing in the B737 conversion market include Miami-based Aeronautical Engineers Inc., Israel Aircraft Industries and Pemco Conversions. Pemco converts B737-300 and -400 series aircraft and recently began offering the B737-700 Flex Combi, which carries passengers and cargo on the main deck in flexible configurations.
Based on the Next-Generation B737, the B737-800BCF offers operators newer technology, lower fuel consumption and higher reliability than other standard-body freighters, according to Boeing. Primarily used to carry express cargo on domestic or short-haul routes, the aircraft is capable of carrying up to 23.9 tonnes and flying up to 2,000 nautical miles (3,750 kms).
The B767 freighter family caters to airlines in the long-haul, regional and feeder markets. The B767-300BCF has virtually the same cargo capability as the B767-300F production freighter with up to 56.5 tonnes of payload and flying up to 3,350 nautical miles (6,190 kms), according to Boeing.
The Boeing freighter family, which includes production and converted freighters, provides more than 90 per cent of the world’s freighter capacity.