The growing air cargo market and environmental measures that will see a number of jets retired in 2027 could lead to Boeing launching a 787 freighter.
“That’s a natural place for us to look,” Brian Hermesmeyer, freighter customer leader for Boeing’s commercial airplane division, told reporters last week.
Hermesmeyer did not elaborate on the possibility, but confirmed that the company is always studying the demand for converted versions of all its commercial jets.
The Dreamliner entered service over the past decade with a many technical improvements, most notably the extensive composite material construction. It is precisely this aspect that makes the conversion more complex.
Unlike aluminum that covers the fuselage of older aircraft, carbon fiber requires different reinforcements in the structure to compensate for the installation of wide cargo doors.
Boeing has a successful lineup of new freighters, with the 767-300F and 777F, but both will leave the production line in 2027 because they do not meet future environmental legislation.
While the 777F has a confirmed replacement, the 777-8F, the 767 does not have a successor. On the other hand, the conversion of second-hand jets has been quite common in the industry, due to the availability of passenger aircraft in the market.
Similar in design to the 787, the A350 will also be used for cargo, but only in a dedicated variant, the A350F, which will enter service in 2025.