Boeing Adds 737 Freighter Conversion Lines With China’s STAECO To Meet Cargo Boom
As the industry scrambles to add cargo capacity to meet unprecedented demand, Boeing has agreed a plan with Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering (STAECO) to add two additional 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) conversion lines.
The agreement, announced in Beijing on Dec. 7, comes just days after the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued an airworthiness directive for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to service following its extended grounding in the wake of accidents in 2018 and 2019.
The extra conversion capacity will be added in 2022 to STAECO’s existing facility in Jinan, China. Boeing says the first new line will open in the 2022 first quarter, with the second line expected to begin conversions by mid-2022. Once the new lines are operational, STAECO will have seven conversion lines dedicated to the 737-800BCF, the U.S. manufacturer says.
News of the expansion in China comes after Boeing earlier announced it is creating additional 737-800BCF conversion capacity at several other sites, including with existing supplier Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company (GAMECO) and with new partner Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales, based in Costa Rica. Additional conversion capacity is also being added with the establishment of lines at KF Aerospace in Canada and at Boeing’s maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at London’s Gatwick Airport.
Boeing forecasts 1,720 freighter conversions will be needed over the next 20 years, of which 1,200 will be standard body conversions. Boeing estimates that Asia-based carriers will account for 40% of that demand.