LONDON – This week has seen GECAS and IAI (Israel Aerospace industry) have announced they will launch a Boeing 777-300ER Freighter conversion program and have dubbed it as the big twin.

The converted freighters will become Boeing 777-300ERSF and have launched the program with 15 firm orders, with 15 options. Both parties will jointly fund the freighter conversion program.

The first aircraft is set to be delivered for conversion at the end of next year, it will then be used as a prototype, as the converted aircraft will have to go under a type certification program.

GECAS says that the Boeing 777-300ER could be used as a direct replacement for ageing Boeing 747-400 freighters and say it offers a 21% reduction in fuel burn.

The converted 777-300ERs will also be able to operate approximately 95% of the routes the 747s already operate.

In comparison to other twin-jet freighters, the 300ER will offer a capacity increase of up to 25%. The first converted Boeing 777-300ERF is slated to enter service in 2022.

“We are excited to join with IAI on this program. Their proven experience, knowledge, and unique engineering skill and resources in passenger to freighter conversions combined with our working relationship with IAI stretching back into the 1990s gives us the confidence to co-fund the STC Development and commit to the Program as the Launch Customer of the B777-300ERSF” explains Richard Greener, SVP and Manager of GECAS Cargo.

Yosef Melamed, IAI’s EVP IAI & GM Aviation Group. “IAI commends GECAS’ ability to see around corners and work with the IAI Group to build a great aircraft that the market requires,”

“We are delighted GECAS has put such trust in IAI’s abilities and are proud to continue our long-term relationship.”

GE Aviation will also be involved with the program and provide MRO services to the engines, the GE90, which is the exclusive power plant for the Boeing 777-300ER.

“The GE90 is designed specifically for the longer-range Boeing 777 aircraft, providing up to 115,000 lbs. of thrust, and has built a legacy of outstanding performance, reliability and payload,” said GE Aviation GE90 General Manager Mike Kauffman.

“GE Aviation looks forward to providing high-quality, cost-effective MRO services for these engines, ensuring their exceptional performance continues through their lifecycle to support the operation of the converted freighters.”

The Boeing 777-300ER is the latest Boeing aircraft to be converted by GECAS, after Boeing 747s, 757s, 767s, 737 Classics and more recently Boeing 737 next generations from 2016.

The converted Boeing 737 Next Generation and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft could become the backbone of freighters carriers within the next five to ten years.