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Contents

Illustrated technical information covering Vol 2 Over 800 multi-choice systems questions Close up photos of internal and external components Illustrated history and description of all variants of 737 Databases and reports of all the major 737 accidents & incidents History and Development of the Boeing 737 - MAX General flightdeck views of each generation of 737's Technical presentations of 737 systems by Chris Brady Detailed tech specs of every series of 737 A collection of my favourite photographs that I have taken of or from the 737 Press reports of orders and deliveries Details about 737 production methods A compilation of links to other sites with useful 737 content Study notes and technical information A compilation of links to major 737 news stories with a downloadable archive A quick concise overview of the pages on this site

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The launch of the 737MAX has left behind large numbers of 737-NGs at the age and valuations that will make freight conversions attractive. To work, current planes must be available cheaply enough on the second-hand market, with about 15-20 years on the clock, to cover the cost of conversion and make a profit. Here are some of the options available:

Boeing 737 NG freighter options:

Freighter News

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All of the information, photographs & schematics from this website and much more is now available in a 374 page printed book or in electronic format.

*** Updated 23 Nov 2020 ***

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BCF

The Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) program was announced in late 2014. It is a cargo conversion by the Chinese modification joint venture Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services. Speaking in 2014, Dan da Silva, Vice President of Modification and Conversion Services at Boeing, described the 737-800 BCF as possibly the simplest conversion Boeing has ever done; the result of a design philosophy that balances capability and the need for a very competitive price. The 737-800 BCF can carry Twelve pallet positions—11 standard pallets and one half-pallet—provide 5,000 cubic feet of cargo space on the main deck, supplemented by two lower-lobe compartments providing more than 1,540 cubic feet of space for bulk cargo. It has a maximum payload of 26,300kg with a 2,000nm range.

By Jan 2021 the 737-800BCF had won more than 150 orders.

There are three BCF conversion centres

  • BSAS (Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services) in Shanghai has 2 lines. Completed its first aircraft, a 737-800BCF for West Atlantic, in Dec 2017. It was delivered in April 2018 after flight testing in the US and certification.
  • STAECO (Shandong Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Company Limited) in Jinan has 3 lines. Completed its first 737BCF for Air Algérie on 21 July 2018
  • GAMECO (Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co.) in Guangzhou-Baiyun has 2 lines. Completed its first 737-800BCF conversion on 9 November 2020

Also Boeing is reviewing the aircraft conversion processes to reduce flow times. The need for the aircraft is driven by three main considerations: the first is regulatory pressure in key markets where there are age limits on aircraft, such as China; secondly, demand in China is such that by 2020 there will not be enough 737-400s to meet requirements; and finally there is a need for more advanced avionics to take advantage of RNP and FANS capabilities, which today require airlines to invest between $2 and $3 million to upgrade older generation 737-300s and -400s. There is still very high demand for the aircraft for passenger use though 737-800 deliveries started in 1998, with many being part of sale/leaseback deals. As 10-year leases are completed there will inevitably be returns as well as renewals, which should provide adequate feedstock, anticipates da Silva.

Boeing is also considering the 737-900ER BCF, but not until the early 2020s. This conversion would potentially offer higher payloads than the 737-800 BCF, getting somewhat closer to the 757-200SF, says da Silva. That aircraft is ideally suited to the Chinese market and, despite demand being strong, feedstock is extremely limited due to both the FedEx acquisition of more than 100 aircraft (the latest from United) and the fact current operators are hanging on to their aircraft until the end of their economic life.


 

IAI Bedek

Unannounced until now, IAI Bedek has also applied for a licence for the 737-700/800 and is already in advanced discussions with a launch customer, says Jack Gaber, Senior Vice-President Marketing and Business Development. The first project will be the 737-700, with work due to start in the first quarter of 2015, for first delivery in 2016. The 737-800 will start in late 2017, with faster redelivery coming in early 2018. Though these aircraft are more expensive, this is a relatively low-cost conversion, he says, and there is a real effort to design to cost in order to make the project viable. The 737-800 variant should also have the greatest demand. Gaber notes that all the 737NG projects will produce aircraft with similar payload/range characteristics, thus he is slightly surprised by Boeing’s entry into the market. The company will receive the licence fees from all the other players regardless, so he does not see how an OEM can either compete effectively on cost with specialist conversion houses or bring forth any unique product enhancements.


 

Aeronautical Engineers (AEI)

Aeronautical Engineers formally launched their programme in 2015.

GECAS’s Cargo Aircraft Group has disclosed, during the Paris air show, that it intends to convert up to 20 of its passenger 737-800s to freighters.

Conversion will be undertaken at Aeronautical Engineers’ modification centres in China and the USA, beginning next year.

GECAS says it expects the modified aircraft to achieve US FAA supplemental type certification in 2017 at which point the 737-800SF will be offered for lease as a freighter.

The lessor’s executive vice-president for specialty markets, Christopher Damianos, says the company believes the type will be a “best-in-class” aircraft for replacement and expansion in the single-aisle cargo sector.

Cargo Aircraft Group has previously opted to convert 737-300s and -400s to freighters, and its portfolio of cargo jets also includes larger freighter types.

Aeronautical Engineers says that securing GECAS as the launch customer for the -800 conversion will offer the lessor a “high residual value solution” for its -800 fleet.

The Aeronautical Engineers Inc. (AEI) B737-800SF Cargo Conversion consists of the installation of a 86" x 140" cargo door on the left side of the fuselage, and modificationn of main deck to a Class E cargo compartment.  After conversion the aircraft can carry eleven 88" x 125" AAA full height containers or pallets plus one AEP/AEH, with pallet weights up to 9,000 lbs.

The cargo door is hydraulically operated and actuated from the inside of the aircraft by a independent system.  Hydraulic pressure is available from two sources: a 28VDC electrically operated hydraulic pump or a manual hand pump.  The door control and manual pump are located on the 9g barrier, allowing a single person to operate the door manually.

Main Attributes

  • Can accommodate eleven 88"x125" AAA full height containers or pallets plus one AEP/AEH
  • Up to 52,000 LB (23,587 KG) Main Deck Payload (depending on Model & Aircraft Weight Limits)
  • Reinforced Floor structure for highest average position weights in industry
  • 86" x 140" cargo door
  • Single Vent Door System
  • High reliability, 28VDC, independent cargo door hydraulic system
  • Cabin windows replaced with lightweight aluminum window plugs
  • 9g rigid cargo / smoke barrier with sliding door
  • Relocated DFDR for 84.5" + ceiling height through out cargo compartment, including last position
  • Stretch Formed fuselage skins
  • Up to 5 Supernumerary Seats

 

PEMCO

Approved by the FAA on 15 Jul 2020, the PEMCO B737-700FC (FlexCombi™) offers three configurations: a 24-seat cabin plus a 2,640-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 30,000 pounds of payload in six pallet positions; a 12-seat cabin plus a 3,005-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 35,000 pounds of payload in seven pallet positions; or full-freighter mode consisting of a 3,370-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 40,000 pounds of payload in eight pallet positions. The available positions will accommodate 88” x 125” or 88” x 108” pallets, with the seventh and eighth positions accommodating smaller pallets.

PEMCO also is developing a B737-700F full-freighter conversion program. Those freighters would feature nine pallet positions, up to 45,000 pounds of payload, and 3,844 cubic feet of total volume. The available positions will accommodate 88” x 125” or 88” x 108” pallets, with the ninth position accommodating a smaller pallet.


 

Freighter News

9 Nov 2020 - GAMECO's first 737-800BCF aircraft is ready

GAMECO (Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co.) celebrated its first 737-800BCF conversion on November 9. The conversion was also completed in just four months on October 15, several days ahead of schedule.

GAMECO launched its first 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) line last June with a door-cutting ceremony at its Guangzhou-Baiyun facility on a 737-800 which had previously been operated by Aeromexico (LN 557, N520AM).

"Despite the challenges caused by the global pandemic, we were able to fulfill our promises and redeliver the conversion product faster than anticipated and with the highest quality" said Norbert Marx, GAMECO General Manager. "We will now take the lessons learned from this conversion and apply them to our overall process to ensure we continually meet the quality and reliability standards that our partner Boeing expects" he added.

The Chinese MRO will work in parallel to increase its conversion capacities and plans to build a second 737-800BCF conversion line in Guangzhou in the coming months.

Launched in 2016, Boeing's 737-800BCF program thus has a third conversion center, after those of BSAS in Shanghai and STAECO in Jinan. With this conversion program, Boeing continues to respond to the higher demand for freighters in this market, particularly driven with the increasing needs in e-commerce and express freight.

40 737-800BCFs have already been delivered and are operated by 10 customers.

 

15 Jul 2020 - ATSG’S PEMCO RECEIVES FAA APPROVAL FOR ITS BOEING 737-700 FLEXCOMBI™ CONVERSION PROGRAM

Air Transport Services Group, Inc. announced today that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has approved its Passenger-to-FlexCombi™ conversion program for the Boeing 737-700 Next Generation aircraft.

ATSG said the FAA issued a Supplemental Type Certification for its unique conversion design for the Boeing 737-700, offering customers two different main-deck freight and passenger configurations as well as full-freighter mode. The aircraft will be marketed as B737-700FC (FlexCombi™). PEMCO Conversions, a division of ATSG subsidiary Pemco World Air Services, Inc., developed and managed the program from its headquarters in Tampa, FL.

“To reach this moment in the development of our 737-700 passenger-to-freighter conversion program solidifies our presence as a global leader in the marketplace,” said Mike Andrews, director of conversion programs for PEMCO. “We are pleased with the performance of our Tampa cargo conversion team and continue to develop innovative products meeting increased customer demand for 737 conversions.”

The launch customer for the PEMCO B737-700FC is Bahrain-based Chisholm Enterprises, an internationally recognized provider of tailored aviation and business solutions in the Middle East. Its subsidiary Texel Air, a non-scheduled cargo airline, will operate the B737-700FC from Bahrain International Airport.

PEMCO General Manager Jeff Becker added, “Chisholm is a great partner that provides unique services in its market, so the flexibility of our 737 conversion products continues to meet Chisholm’s needs as its fleet grows.”

Now that the 737-700 conversion program has received FAA approval, PEMCO plans to seek certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The PEMCO B737-700FC (FlexCombi™) offers three configurations: a 24-seat cabin plus a 2,640-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 30,000 pounds of payload in six pallet positions; a 12-seat cabin plus a 3,005-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 35,000 pounds of payload in seven pallet positions; or full-freighter mode consisting of a 3,370-cubic-foot cargo hold for up to 40,000 pounds of payload in eight pallet positions. The available positions will accommodate 88” x 125” or 88” x 108” pallets, with the seventh and eighth positions accommodating smaller pallets.

PEMCO also is developing a B737-700F full-freighter conversion program. Those freighters would feature nine pallet positions, up to 45,000 pounds of payload, and 3,844 cubic feet of total volume. The available positions will accommodate 88” x 125” or 88” x 108” pallets, with the ninth position accommodating a smaller pallet.

PEMCO is the global leader in narrow-body passenger-to-freighter aircraft conversions, having developed over 70 STCs and modified over 350 aircraft. PEMCO’s 60-plus customers select the company’s passenger-to-freighter conversions for their superior cargo door and loading systems, superior operating functions, on-time turnaround, and PEMCO’s track record of 2 million hours of safe, reliable operation.

 

16 Jun 2020 - Gameco Inaugurates Boeing 737-800 Freighter Conversion Line

China’s Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company (Gameco) on Tuesday 16 Jun 2020, marked the launch of the 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) program today at its Guangzhou base. The team held a door-cutting ceremony involving its first 737-800BCF, thereby beginning the production phase of its program. Gameco and Boeing launched work on the new production line of 737-800BCF last year in response to growing demand in the air cargo market. With sharp declines in passenger air travel, airlines have shifted some of their business toward air cargo, as freighter needs have increased in response to heightened cargo demand throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The Gameco ceremony marked the opening of the sixth full 737-800BCF conversion line in China. Two other Chinese MROs provide the current conversion capacity; Shandong Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Company (Staeco) now operates three lines and early this year began installing a fourth set of tooling for a surge line. The Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services joint venture operates another two lines. Boeing promises a 90-day turnaround time regardless of the conversion facility.

The partnerships with Chinese MROs make sense given that Boeing expects a third of the market for the airplane to reside in the People’s Republic. “We see huge growth freighters, and probably over 1,200 standard body freighters in our current market outlook. We see a significant portion of that in China,” Boeing Global Services director for converted freighters and complex modifications Alvey Pratt told AIN ahead of February’s Singapore Airshow. “It’s been pretty broad globally but we certainly see, long-term, China having a big, big role in that growth.” Chinese operators include Hangzhou-­based YTO Airline and Beijing-based China Postal Airlines, which took its airplanes on lease from Gecas. Performance improvements over 737 Classic freighters include capacity and range while the 737-800BCF’s reduced fuel burn brings clear economic benefits. The BCF carries up to 52,800 pounds of cargo while flying routes of up to 2,000 nautical miles. Twelve pallet positions—11 standard pallets and one half-pallet—provide 5,000 cubic feet of cargo space on the main deck, supplemented by two lower-lobe compartments providing more than 1,540 cubic feet of space for bulk cargo.

 

29 Oct 2019 - Boeing announces new 737-800 freighter conversion line in Guangzhou, China

The new conversion line, launched in cooperation with Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co, is for the Boeing 737-800. It is intended to start operation in 2020. Boeing first launched the 737-800 freighter conversion program in 2016, and it has received orders or commitments for 130 planes, with 17 expected to be delivered by the end of 2019.

It should be noted that as the conversion program mainly uses secondhand aircraft and domestic aircraft being converted and delivered to domestic airlines, it won't be affected by the US-China trade war tariffs.

 

29 Oct 2017 - IAI 737-700F Conversion gets FAA STC

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has received US approval to conduct passenger-to-freighter conversions on Boeing 737-700s. IAI says it has received a supplemental type certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration and has delivered the first converted aircraft to Alaska Airlines. The Seattle-based carrier has ordered three converted 737 freighters from IAI.

 

17 May 2016 - AEI signs agreement for 30 additional B737-800SF freighter conversions

Aeronautical Engineers, Inc. (AEI) announced today the company has signed an agreement to provide up to 30 twelve pallet position B737-800SF conversions with an undisclosed customer. The agreement calls for 15 firm orders with an additional 15 options. The modifications for the customer will begin in late 2018 with deliveries beginning in 2019. To date, and including this recent announcement, AEI has received a total of 80 firm orders and commitments for its twelve pallet position B737-800SF. The conformity aircraft for the 737-800SF conversion program is currently on location at Commercial Jet’s facility in Miami, FL.

The AEI B737-800SF converted freighter will be able to accommodate eleven 88”x125” AAA full height containers or pallets and one AEP/AEH container for a total of 12 positions. Depending upon the aircraft model and aircraft weight limits, the AEI B737-800SF will be able to carry a payload of up to 52,000 LB (23,587 KG). Additionally the AEI B737-800SF freighter will incorporate an 86” x 140” main cargo door and will include up to 5 supernumerary seats.

 

15 Dec 2015 - China Postal Airlines orders 10 737-800BCFs

China Postal is the second carrier to sign for the 737 BCF programme, after Hangzhou-based YTO Airlines. Boeing says the order comes “pending a product launch”, and that it will support customers in the narrowbody freighter market with the 737 BCF programme. China Postal airlines already operates two 737-300QCs, 12 737-300SFs and eight 737-400SFs.

 

30 Sep 2015 - Boeing receives first commitment for 737-800BCF

Boeing has received the first commitment to order a converted freighter version of the 737-800 from a Chinese start-up airline, but the programme has yet to be launched. Boeing confirms that the Hangzhou YTO Express has signed a commitment to order the 737-800BCF. The company did not provide numbers, but a Chinese aviation news site reports the YTO commitment numbers 15 aircraft. YTO launched service on 26 September with a 737-300 cargo aircraft, the first of three the airline expects to receive. Meanwhile, Boeing is still building a business case for launching the freighter conversion of the 737-800, the company tells Flightglobal. Both Boeing and Pemco have been polling customers for interest in the type as the next-generation series of the 737 is replaced by the re-engined 737 Max. Boeing reportedly received an authority to offer the 737-800BCF last year, but has not publicly announced any commitments until the YTO deal. The company remains in discussions with multiple airlines about the type, Boeing says. "We look forward to launching the 737BCF program once we have met our launch criteria," Boeing adds.

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