Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) pass a key milestone in the B777-300ER passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion programme.
The milestone marks the planned halfway phase of the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Development Program for the ‘Big Twin’, B777-300ERSF.
This programme now moves beyond planning into the phase of physically modifying the aircraft, the two said. The first Big Twin is expected to enter into service in 2022 with GECAS being both launch customer and co-funder of the project.
The converted freighter, dubbed the ‘Big Twin,’ is a collaboration between IAI and GECAS with the design making use of the existing B777-300ER passenger airframe. The conversion will rely on the same GE90 engines used in the production freighter.
The Big Twin will have 25 per cent more cargo capacity than the standard B777 production freighter, which is based on the -200LR series. And the aircraft will burn 21 per cent less fuel per tonne than a B747-400 freighter. It is also expected to maintain 90 per cent commonality with the B777 production freighter.
The freighter is expected to attract strong interest from cargo airlines looking to retire their ageing B747-400 Freighters.
GECAS has placed 15 firm orders and has 15 additional options for the aircraft, which will be leased to cargo operators.