Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The future of freighters is now for Boeing
Article Type: Mini features From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 4
As Boeing looks forward in the freighter business, the company does not have to look very far to see that “The Future of Freighters Is Now.”
“We’ve been on a great run with three consecutive years of record freighter orders,” said Jim Edgar, Regional Director, Cargo Marketing – Boeing Commercial Aeroplanes. “But that’s just the beginning – this year we’re anticipating a series of milestones that bring about major improvements in fuel efficiency, environmental responsibility and operational flexibility. Our two new large freighters will provide a 16 to 34 percent improvement in CO2 and fuel efficiency relative to today’s large freighters, and will be significantly quieter than Stage 4 community noise requirements.”
“We’ve been laying the groundwork for a transformation that really took off in 2008. We began major assembly of the 777 Freighter in January and will move forward with the completion of assembly, flight test, certification and a fourth-quarter delivery of the first 777 Freighter to Air France, and we’ll achieve critical design milestones for the 747-8 Freighter and the start of 747-8F production. These aeroplanes will be the key revenue generators for the air cargo industry for years to come,” Edgar added.
The Boeing Company reports that it has completed 50 per cent of the design releases for the new 747-8 Freighter. The program has released the 747-8 Freighter’s detailed designs to Boeing factories and its suppliers in order to begin building parts, assemblies and tools for the new cargo aeroplane.
“This design milestone is a tribute to efforts of the 747-8 team, our customers and suppliers,” said Ross R. Bogue, Vice President and General Manager, 747 program and Everett site. “We are now focused on completing the remaining design work and delivering a 747-8 Freighter that increases the 747 family’s leadership in the growing cargo market.”
The 747-8 Freighter, which launched in November 2005, is scheduled to start delivering in late 2009 to launch customers Cargolux and Nippon Cargo Airlines.
The aeroplane will be longer than the 747-400 Freighter by 18.3 ft (5.6 m) and enjoy a maximum structural payload capability of 154 ton (140 metric tonnes) with a range of more than 4,420 nmi (8,185 km). It will offer 16 per cent more revenue cargo volume than its predecessor, allowing the aeroplane to accommodate four more main-deck pallets and three more lower-hold pallets. Powered by GEnx engines, the 747-8 Freighter will, according to Boeing, be 17 per cent more fuel efficient than the 747-400 Freighter and 30 per cent quieter.
“The 747-8 Freighter builds upon the 747-400 Freighter’s legendary efficiency,” said Bogue. “It will provide nearly equivalent trip costs and 16 per cent lower ton-mile costs than its predecessor. The 747-8 Freighter will deliver the lowest ton-mile costs of any freighter, giving cargo operators unmatched profit potential.”
In addition to the aeroplane’s efficiencies, the 747-8 Freighter will complement the new 777 Freighter with the ability to transfer cargo directly between the two aeroplanes. The main-deck cargo doors on both aeroplanes are sized to accommodate 10-foot-high (three-meter) pallets for easy interlining.
Orders for new Boeing production freighters have numbered 74, 81 and 83 for 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively, for an unprecedented total of 258 aeroplanes, accounting for about 14 per cent of total Boeing commercial aeroplane order value during that time.
Development of the 747-8F will proceed apace as General Electric conducts testing on its GEnx. Flying test-bed runs and 90 per cent design release which was accomplished midyear and production on the 747-8F will start in late 2008, leading to a busy 2009 that features the aeroplane’s rollout, first flight, certification and first delivery to Cargolux of Luxembourg.
Along with the 777 and 747-8 activities, Boeing freighter plans for 2008 include the first delivery of the company’s 767-300 Boeing Converted Freighter to ANA and the release of Boeing’s biennial World Air Cargo Forecast 2008/2009 at The International Air Cargo Forum & Exposition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November.
These new products, in addition to the existing 767-300 production freighter and the current 747 Freighter fleet of more than 300 aeroplanes, coupled with the successful 747-400 Boeing Converted Freighter program, position Boeing for continued success in the air cargo marketplace.
Boeing freighters are believed to currently account for more than 90 per cent of the world’s dedicated freighter capacity, with the 747 Freighter Family alone accounting for more than half of that capacity.