GECAS, IAI Launch Passenger-to-Freighter Conversion Program

GECAS and Israel Aerospace Industries launched the Boeing 777-300ERSF and established a passenger to freighter conversion program. Dubbed “The Big Twin” — denoting its status as the largest ever twin-engined freighter — the initiative is jointly funded by GECAS and IAI.

With agreements signed in July 2019 and a prototype aircraft to be provided by GECAS, the 777-300ERSF Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Development Program has now been launched.

As launch customer and co-funder of the program, GECAS will commit fifteen firm orders and has fifteen additional options for the 777-300ERSF from GECAS’ owned portfolio to the program (including the prototype aircraft). 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 Program will also see IAI enter into conversion agreements for the 777-300ERSF directly with airlines as well as other lessors around the world.

The 777-300ERSF STC development and prototype conversion is estimated to take over three years from the start of the program to achieving CAAI/FAA STC Approval, while subsequent aircraft will average four to five months to convert.

As the next generation of long-haul, large-capacity widebody freighters, The Big Twin will offer operators 25% more capacity than today’s smaller twin-engine long-haul freighters. It is anticipated that the Big Twin will achieve up to 21% lower fuel-burn per tonne than ageing 4-engine freighters. Entering service in 2022, 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.

This new agreement marks a continuation of a decades-long partnership between GECAS and IAI. IAI’s experience and reputation in conversion programs includes the Boeing 747, 767, 737NG and the 737 Classic, setting them apart as a leader in this unique passenger-to-freighter conversion space. 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.

“We are excited to join with IAI on this program. 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” explained Richard Greener, SVP and manager of GECAS Cargo.

The program 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.

IAI is Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company which specializes in developing and manufacturing advanced, state-of-the-art systems for air, space, sea, land, cyber and homeland security. IAI also designs and manufactures business jets and aerostructures, performs overhaul and maintenance on commercial aircraft and converts passenger aircraft to refueling and cargo configurations.

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