US global major aerospace group Boeing announced on Tuesday that it was going to set up two more lines to convert its 737-800 single-aisle airliners into dedicated freighter aircraft (designated 737-800BCF, BCF standing for Boeing Converted Freighter). This is to meet the continuing current strong and forecast growing future demand. The two new lines will become operational next year, the first during the first quarter and the second by the end of the second quarter.
The two new lines will be in China, at the Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Company Limited (STAECO) facility at the Jinan Yaoqing International Airport, at Jinan, the capital city of Shandong province, which lies on the north-east coast of China. STAECO already operates five such conversion lines.
Only last month, Boeing announced the setting up of three additional 737-800BCF conversion lines, two in Canada and one in the UK. Another is to be established in Costa Rica. Moreover, STAECO is not the only Chinese company used by Boeing to convert 737-800 airliners into BCFs: the Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company Limited also provides this service.
“Boeing is pleased to continue growing our strong and mutually beneficial relationship with STAECO by creating additional conversion capacity to meet growing global demand,” affirmed Boeing commercial sales and marketing China VP Peter Gao. “STAECO has exhibited the expertise and track record of delivering quality freighter conversions and will play a critical role in helping Boeing meet our customer commitments today and in the future.”
“The successful implementation of the 737-800BCF programme at STAECO has become a model of cooperation between manufacturer and [maintenance repair and overhaul organisation] on passenger-to-freighter conversions,” highlighted STAECO president Wang Chao. “We are honoured by Boeing’s ongoing trust and partnership in expanding our capacity through a sixth and seventh conversion line, and we look forward to continuing to fulfil our commitments in support of our mutual customers.”
Boeing pointed out that the 737-800BCF is the market leader in its category (“standard”) of freighter aircraft. Currently, 19 customers have ordered, or made commitments for, more than 200 737-800BCFs. The US group estimates that 1 720 airliners will be converted into freighters over the next 20 years. Of this total, 1 200 will be in the standard category, and 40% of these will be acquired by operators in Asia.