Boeing 737-800BCF

MIAMI — Boeing and China’s Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Co., Ltd. (STAECO) have subscribed today an agreement, in which the Chinese firm will be a conversion service provider on the Boeing 737-800 Converted Freighter (BCF) program.

The Jinan-based maintenance, repair and overhaul facility will join Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services in providing conversion services for the program, which Boeing launched in February. Together, the facilities will operate three conversion lines.

“We enjoyed a long-term cooperation with Boeing and our Boeing aircraft-related work accounts for over 80 percent of our business,” said Huang Enfang, Chairman of STAECO. “The Classic 737 passenger-to-freighter conversion we have been undertaking has outstanding quality and enjoys a high reputation from our customers. Boeing’s selection of STAECO as its partner for the Next-Generation 737BCF is a recognition of our excellent work.”

The 737-800 is the first Next-Generation 737 that Boeing has offered for conversion. The modifications required for the transition from a 737-800 passenger to a freighter will include the installation of a large main-deck cargo door (which to date was offered for the 737-700 Combi version), a cargo-handling system, and accommodations for up to four non-flying crew or passengers.

According to the manufacturer, the 737-800BCF will be able to carry up to 52,800 pounds (23,950 kg) of cargo, arranged in 12 pallet positions comprised by 11 standard pallets and one half-pallet, providing 5,000 cubic feet of cargo space on the main deck, and further complemented with an additional 1,540 cubic feet of cargo space at the lower cargo holds.

Since the program’s launch, Boeing has won up to 60 orders and commitments from customers around the globe. Most of the current customers for the program are Chinese cargo airlines, which account almost the half of the order book. Hangzhou-based YTO Airlines and China Postal Airlines have ordered 10 conversions each. In addition, Boeing secured a commitment from Shenzhen-based SF Airlines.

Last September, Boeing released its annual China Current Market Outlook (CMO), in which projects a demand for 6,810 new airplanes in the country over the next 20 years. Particularly, the rise in e-commerce – already the largest in the world –is becoming a key driver for the continuous growth of aviation in China, prompting the need for 180 new freighters and 410 converted freighters.

The first 737-800BCF is on schedule to deliver in the fourth quarter of 2017.