Boeing has announced the delivery of the first 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF). The launch customer is GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) and the freighter will be operated by West Atlantic Group, based in Sweden.

Through its freighter conversion programme, Boeing transitions passenger airplanes into freighters, extending the service life of the airplane. The 737-800BCF carries up to 23.9 tonnes (52,800 lbs) and has a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,750 km).

Twelve pallet positions provide 4,993 cubic feet (141.4 cubic metres) of cargo space on the main deck of the 737-800BCF. This will be supplemented by two lower-lobe compartments, combined providing more than 1,540 cubic feet (43.7 cubic metres) of space for revenue-generating cargo.

The 737-800BCF freighter will primarily be used to carry express cargo on domestic/short-haul routes.

Additional capacity

“We’re excited to be the first operator of the 737-800BCF,” said West Atlantic’s chief executive, Fredrik Groth. “The additional capacity and next-generation efficiency offered by this new aircraft will deliver real benefit to our customers and we’re delighted to be at the forefront of deliveries of this new technology.

He added: “With the 737-800 BCF, we expect to improve reliability, lower aircraft operating costs, and provide a better environmental footprint.”

West Atlantic will receive four 737-800 aircraft within the next 11 months and, once delivered, the company will operate 23 Boeing 737 freighter aircraft.

Richard Greener, GECAS’ Senior Vice President & Manager, Cargo Aircraft Group, said: “This freighter type is an important complement to our portfolio as we support our customers across expanding air cargo markets.”

Mike Fleming, vice president, commercial services, Boeing Global Services, added: “The 737-800BCF brings customers the next generation of freighters. For the first time, operators get one-stop shop support throughout the lifecycle of a standard-body freighter – originally manufactured by Boeing, converted by Boeing, and supported by Boeing.”

Market outlook

Boeing’s Current Market Outlook forecasts that over the next 20 years, customers will need more than 1,100 standard-body converted freighters.

For the 737-800BCF, Boeing has received 45 orders and commitments from seven customers including: YTO Airlines, based in Hangzhou, China; China Postal Airlines, based in Beijing, China; GECAS, based in Ireland; Air Algerie, based in Algiers, Algeria; LAS Cargo, based in Bogota, Colombia; and Cargo Air, based in Sophia, Bulgaria, as well as an unannounced customer.

Existing passenger airplanes will be modified at select facilities located near conversion demand, including Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services Co. Ltd., and Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd., also known as STAECO, in China. Modifications include installing a large main-deck cargo door, a cargo-handling system and accommodations for up to four non-flying crew members or passengers.

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