Boeing today announced the launch of its 737-800 converted freighter. The 737 cargo series will be in the air by the fourth quarter of 2017 and the company says it is has commitments for up to 55 conversions from seven different customers.
The 737-800 is the first Next-Generation 737 that Boeing has offered for conversion. This standard-body converted freighter will primarily be used to carry express cargo on domestic routes.
“The Next-Generation 737 provides exceptional value to express freight carriers through its superior payload, range, reliability and efficiency,” said Stan Deal, senior vice president, Commercial Aviation Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “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.
“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.”
Boeing is continuing its practice of converting passenger planes for cargo purposes. Making this move with the 737 will allow for converting planes as more are retired from passenger service. It will also provide a high-capacity mid-range cargo carrier which will be particularly valuable to the growing Asian market.
Once modified, the 737-800 will include a large main-deck cargo door, a cargo-handling system plus accommodations for up to four non-flying crew or passengers. Boeing says the 737-800BCF will be able to carry up to 52,800 pounds of cargo. There will be 5,000 cubic feet of cargo space on the main deck, complemented with an additional 1,540 cubic feet of cargo space at the lower cargo holds.
Boeing says the conversions of existing passenger airplanes will take place at select facilities located near conversion demand. That will include the company’s facility in Shanghai.