GECAS, IAI launch the B777 freighter conversion programme, freighter to enter service in 2022
Oct 17, 2019: Aircraft leasing firm GECAS and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have launched the Boeing 777-300ER freighter conversion programme.
The co-funder of the programme, GECAS, is the launch customer of the converted freighter, Boeing 777-300ER Special Freighter (SF). It is said that GECAS will commit fifteen firm orders and has fifteen additional options for the 777-300ERSF from GECAS’ owned portfolio to the programme (including the prototype aircraft).
Like the lessor’s foray as the launch customer for the conversion programmes of the 737-800 freighter in 2016, GECAS sees this as an opportunity to lead the market to meet the forecasted demand for wide-body freighter capacity.
GECAS informed through a statement that the Boeing 777-300ERSF will enter service in 2022.
The converted freighter, dubbed as the ‘The Big Twin’ is denoting its status as the largest ever twin-engined freighter. The 777-300ERSF is expected to provide best in class economics, superb range, outstanding flexible freighter capabilities — especially for express and e-commerce operators — and all with renowned 777 commonality, capability and reliability.
GECAS, which has 30 -300ERs in its portfolio, is supplying the airframe for the prototype conversion.
The 777-300ERSF Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) development and prototype conversion is estimated to take over three years from the start of the programme to achieving CAAI/FAA STC Approval, while subsequent aircraft will average four to five months to convert.
The conversion of initial aircraft is expected to take place in Tel Aviv with further conversion lines contemplated in other locations outside of Israel from 2023.
The programme will also see IAI enter into conversion agreements for the 777-300ERSF directly with airlines as well as other lessors around the world.
The programme will also be supported by GE Aviation. The GE90 is the sole-source engine on this aircraft type and GE Aviation has worked with GECAS to create unique engine solutions dedicated to the support of freighter operators.
“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 Next Generation Large Capacity Freighter
As the next generation of long-haul, large-capacity widebody freighters, The Big Twin will offer operators 25 percent more capacity than today’s smaller twin-engined long-haul freighters and it is anticipated that the Big Twin will achieve up to 21 percent lower fuel-burn per tonne than ageing 4-engine freighters.
“We are excited to join with IAI on this programme. 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 1990’s —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.
IAI has a twenty-plus year relationship with GECAS, in which it has completed more than seventy conversions of GECAS’ aircraft, including 747, 767 & 737 freighters.