West Atlantic Airlines committed to lease four Boeing 737-800 converted freighters from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), which will make it the first operator of the type after taking delivery of the freighter late this year or in the first quarter 2018.
GECAS launched the 737-800 converted freighter program and gave the prototype aircraft to Boeing in 2016. GECAS expects the conversion to take about 3.5 months, or 100 days, per aircraft.
Boeing’s modification facility in Shanghai inducted the aircraft, and Kurt Kraft, Boeing Commercial Airplanes VP modification and conversion services, says “we are on schedule to redeliver the first 737-800BCF in the fourth quarter.”
GECAS expects to take delivery of the other three aircraft for West Atlantic Airlines in the third quarter 2018, fourth quarter 2018 and first quarter 2019, according to a GECAS spokesman.
The value of the lease to West Atlantic Airlines, a European operator of mail and express freight, was not disclosed, but the carrier did say the aircraft will enable it to expand into new markets, possibility Asia.
Kraft says Boeing has 60 orders and commitments for the program and “we predict that demand for the standard-body will continue to be strong and grow with more than 40% of demand coming from Asia.”
The 737-800BCF is powered by CFM56-7B engines and will carry 23.9 tonnes of cargo over 2,000 nm.