GECAS and IAI launch 777-300ERSF freighter program

GECAS Press Release | October 17, 2019

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 43 seconds.

GECAS and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced the launch of the Boeing 777-300ERSF, and the establishment of a passenger to freighter conversion program. Dubbed “The Big Twin” — denoting its status as the largest ever twin-engined freighter — the initiative is jointly funded by GECAS and IAI. With agreements signed in July 2019 and a prototype aircraft to be provided by GECAS, the 777-300ERSF supplemental type certificate (STC) development program has now been launched.

The STC development and prototype conversion is estimated to take three year from the beginning of the program to achieving STC approval. GECAS Photo
The STC development and prototype conversion is estimated to take three years from the beginning of the program to achieving CAAI/FAA STC approval. GECAS Photo

As launch customer and co-funder of the program, GECAS will commit fifteen firm orders and has fifteen additional options for the 777-300ERSF from GECAS’ owned portfolio to the Program (including the prototype aircraft). The conversion of initial aircraft is expected to take place in Tel Aviv with further conversion lines contemplated in other locations outside of Israel from 2023. The program will also see IAI enter into conversion agreements for the 777-300ERSF directly with airlines as well as other lessors around the world.

The 777-300ERSF STC development and prototype conversion is estimated to take over three years from the start of the program to achieving CAAI/FAA STC approval, while subsequent aircraft will average four to five months to convert.

The next generation large capacity freighter

At long last, the renowned capability of the 777-300ER comes to freighter operators. As the next generation of long-haul, large-capacity widebody freighters, The Big Twin will offer operators 25 per cent more capacity than today’s smaller twin-engined long-haul freighters and it is anticipated that the Big Twin will achieve up to 21 per cent lower fuel-burn per tonne than ageing four-engine freighters. Entering service in 2022, the 777-300ERSF is expected to provide “best in class” economics, superb range, outstanding flexible freighter capabilities — especially for express and e-commerce operators — and all with renowned 777 commonality, capability and reliability.

Market leaders join forces

This new agreement marks a continuation of a decades-long partnership between GECAS and IAI. IAI’s experience and reputation in conversion programs includes the Boeing 747, 767, 737NG and the 737 Classic, setting them apart as a leader in this unique passenger-to-freighter conversion space. IAI has a 20-plus year relationship with GECAS, in which it has completed more than 70 conversions of GECAS’ aircraft, including 747, 767 and 737 freighters.

“We are excited to join with IAI on this program. Their proven experience, knowledge, and unique engineering skill and resources in passenger to freighter conversions — combined with our working relationship with IAI stretching back into the 1990’s –gives us the confidence to co-fund the STC development and commit to the program as the launch customer of the B777-300ERSF” explained Richard Greener, SVP and manager of GECAS Cargo.

Like the lessor’s foray as the launch customer for the conversion programs of the 737-800 freighter in 2016, GECAS sees this as an opportunity to lead the market to meet the forecasted demand for wide-body freighter capacity.

“IAI commends GECAS’ ability to see around corners and work with the IAI Group to build a great aircraft that the market requires,” shared Yosef Melamed, IAI’s EVP IAI and general manager of its Aviation Group. “We are delighted GECAS has put such trust in IAI’s abilities and are proud to continue our long-term relationship.”

The program will also be supported by GE Aviation. The GE90 is the sole-source engine on this aircraft type and GE Aviation has worked with GECAS to create unique engine solutions dedicated to the support of freighter operators.

“The GE90 is designed specifically for the longer-range Boeing 777 aircraft, providing up to 115,000 lbs of thrust, and has built a legacy of outstanding performance, reliability and payload,” said GE Aviation GE90 general manager Mike Kauffman. “GE Aviation looks forward to providing high-quality, cost effective MRO services for these engines, ensuring their exceptional performance continues through their lifecycle to support the operation of the converted freighters.”

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