Boeing considers 787 freighter and extension of 767F production

US planemaker also showed FedEx a cargo variant of the future widebody that is in development

Boeing evaluates several possibilities to try to solve a dilemma, which will be its freighter under the new 777-8F.

The situation began when ICAO limited production of current cargo jets to 2027, which will end the careers of the 777F and 767F. For the first aircraft, Boeing has already presented the solution, the 777X in a freighter version, but for the second, the doubt persists.

A little light was shed on the matter last week by Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx, who was interviewed by Leeham News.

The chief executive revealed then-unknown details about Boeing’s plans, including the launch of a freighter variant of the future mid-market widebody, formerly known as the NMA (New Midmarket Airplane). The aircraft came close to launching, but safety issues with the 737 MAX and the delay of the 777X program froze the project.

Smith confirmed that the manufacturer is considering launching a 787F, despite the fact that the composite structure requires more complex adjustments than planes made with aluminum alloys.

Boeing 787-9 (Midland Airport)

Long life for the 767F

The most intriguing proposal heard by the FedEx CEO was a possible exception for the 767F to continue to be produced for domestic use in the US.

According to him, the US government may agree to this option if it orders more KC-46A tankers, which are based on the Boeing 767-200.

“If the US Air Force makes a second buy of the KC-46A, it’s very much in the national interest to have the fixed production costs spread over both the 767 freighter and the tanker,” he said.

FedEX currently has 119 767-300F jets in its fleet, the largest in the world for this model.

Airbus A350F (Airbus)

The solutions, however, are for the long term, including a possible takeover of Airbus’ rival A350F, which Smith also praised in the interview. FedEx has 65 A300-600Fs, which have an average of 27 years of operation.

While not deciding on the future, the US cargo airline is considering introducing the converted 777-300 for cargo. There are currently three P2F conversion programs under development, from the companies IAI, Mammoth and KMC. The advantage would be to share the same cockpit as the 52 777Fs in the FedEx fleet.


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