Boeing’s largest aircraft, the Dreamlifter (by volume), keeps the 787 program humming
The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter (formerly named the Large Cargo Freighter, or LCF) is a wide body cargo aircraft, modified from the Boeing 747-400. The unusual shape of the modified LCF has evoked comparisons to the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile. Others say it looks like a beluga whale.
The Dreamlifter, which features the world’s largest cargo hold at 65,000 cubic feet, receives cargo by way of the world’s longest cargo loader. The plane is used exclusively for transporting parts and components for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from all over the world to Boeing’s assembly plants. The Dreamlifter was introduced in 2007, for the purpose of carrying oversized cargo. So far, there have been four Boeing 747 Dreamlifters manufactured, all of them converted from Boeing 747-400s.
What makes the Dreamlifter complete is the swing-fuselage that allows extremely large 787 Dreamliner parts to be removed from the cargo hold in one piece.
Dreamlifter is a Frankenstein of engineering
The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter was conceived when it was realized the the shipping of airplane parts is time consuming, especially when large pieces like wings and fuselages have to travel between Japan, Italy, and America’s east and west coasts. With the new Dreamlifter, the time it takes to get airplane parts of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Japan to America is reduced from 30 days to just 8 hours.
Between its first flight in 2006 and its FAA certification, the Dreamlifter aircraft completed 437 hours of flight testing, and 639 hours of ground testing. The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter LCF was granted FAA certification on June 2nd of 2007.
The Dreamlifter now flies regularly between Japan, Italy and the US to deliver parts. You can commonly see the aircraft at US airports near Seattle, Charleston, S.C and Wichita, Kansas.