GECAS, IAI pass planned halfway phase of Big Twin freighter conversion
GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have announced that they have now passed the planned halfway phase of the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) development programme for the 777-300ERSF or the Big Twin.
This a key milestone for the Big Twin, the GECAS-IAI Co-investment for the passenger-to-freighter conversion program of the GE90 (the world’s most powerful in-service engine) powered 777-300ER, as it now moves beyond planning into the phase of physically modifying the aircraft.
The Big Twin freighter programme was announced in October 2019 and started in June 2020. The name The Big Twin denotes its status as the largest ever twin-engined freighter, offering 25 percent more capacity than smaller twin-engined long-haul freighters and 21 percent lower fuel burn per tonne than the B747-400F.
Rich Greener, SVP and manager of GECAS Cargo, said, “We’ve begun executing on the dedicated freighter design developed by the IAI and GECAS Cargo team towards manufacturing the kits, and the actual conversion phase under a licensing from Boeing.”
Yosef Melamed, IAI EVP and general manager of aviation group, said, “The Big Twin is scheduled to be officially inducted into the IAI 777-300ER P2F Line 1 in Tel Aviv to commence the prototype conversion towards the end of June 2021. This is an exciting milestone for the Big Twin freighter programme.”
After extensive planning and preparation, the STC Development Program has already completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) and subsequent design freeze of the 777-300ERSF. The prototype 777-300ER (MSN 32789) was delivered to IAI’s facility in Tel Aviv by GECAS in June of last year — a full six months ahead of the initial timeline. Since delivery, ground and flight tests have been completed as the prototype aircraft travelled between Tel Aviv and the United States. The aircraft has now returned to Tel Aviv to enter its pre-conversion preparation phase.
A new passenger to freighter conversion program requires significant planning and preparation before modifications — such as the addition of the main deck cargo door, freighter lining, window plugs, a modified crew compartment, a reinforced fuselage, an all-new floor structure to support the 222,000 Lbs. MSP, a 9G rigid cargo barrier, and a powered cargo loading system — can get underway. Moreover, obtaining the STC requires satisfying the stringent requirements of civil aviation authorities.
As announced in October 2020, Kalitta Air, which has provided scheduled and on-demand freighter charter service for twenty years, is the launch operator for the Big Twin.
“By leveraging our fleet of passenger aircraft to provide freighter conversion feedstock, we’re delivering on our strategy to meet the need for replacement of retiring freighters and increased demand for dedicated cargo capacity. We see the Big Twin meeting requirements of the air cargo industry for the next 20 years, so entering this next phase is thrilling,” Greener added.