Watch Now

GECAS readies 777-300 freighter conversion program

The “Big Twin” will be more efficient at carrying cargo than 747-400 freighters

GECAS and IAI begin first Boeing 777-300ER passenger plane conversion to freighter. (Photo: GECAS)

GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) said it delivered its first former Boeing 777-300 passenger plane to Israel Aerospace Industries this week for conversion to all-cargo service.

The GECAS-owned aircraft, which was flown from Dubai to Tel Aviv airport, was initially part of Emirates’ passenger service.

Converting the 2005-built aircraft to a freighter will require extensive work, including the addition of a main deck cargo door, window plugs, modified crew compartment and a reinforced fuselage.

Since this will be the first aircraft conversion of its type, the plane must meet various airworthiness certifications. GECAS said the first plane should be ready for cargo service in 2022, after which it should take Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) four to five months to convert each aircraft.

GECAS declined to name its launch customer for the 777-300 Extended Range freighter. However, the company said it has 15 “firm” orders, with another 15 prospective conversions.

Once completed, GECAS said its 777-300ER, dubbed the “Big Twin,” will be the largest twin-engine freighter of its type.

The company said the freighter will burn 21% less fuel per ton than the larger 747-400 freighters and offer 25% more cargo volume than the 777-200 freighters. The plane’s flight range capability is expected to supersede the remaining 747-400 and MD11 freighters in service.

“This aircraft sets out to meet requirements of the air cargo industry for the next 20 years,” said Richard Greener, GECAS Cargo’s senior vice president, in a statement.

GECAS and IAI announced the start of the 777-300ER passenger-to-freighter program in October.

Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves articles by Chris Gillis.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.