Cargo conversion

The Boeing 737-800SF conversion offers a main deck payload of up to 52,700lb (23,904kg).
Aeronautical Engineers Inc

The first Aeronautical Engineers Inc (AEI) Boeing 737-800SF freighter conversion has been delivered by its customer, the lessor GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), after the conversion received supplementary type certification (STC) from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The 737-800SF conversion, ETAVX (c/n 29121, ex-N598CB), was completed by AEI in December 2018, but there was a delay in its certification due to the partial shutdown of the United States government holding up the FAA certification process. The aircraft was delivered by GECAS to Ethiopian Airlines Cargo in February.

The AEI-converted 737-800SF offers a main deck payload of up to 52,700lb (23,904kg) and 2,000 nautical miles (3,750km) range. The conversion incorporates 11 full-height (88 x 125in/2.2 x 3.1m) container positions, plus an additional position for an AEP/ AEH. It incorporates a reinforced floor, a large 86 x 137in (2.1 x 3.4m) main cargo door with a single vent door system and a flexible Ancra Cargo Loading System, a rigid 9g barrier, up to five supernumerary seats, a galley and full lavatory. AEI says its conversion provides operators with an ability to open new markets carrying express cargo on short-haul routes while offering newer technology, lower fuel consumption and better reliability than standard-body freighters.

The 737-800SF is one of three passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion options now available for the 737-800, with the others being Boeing’s in-house 737- 800BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter) and IAI Bedek’s 737-800BDSF. The 737-800BCF entered service in 2018, with GECAS again the first customer, delivering the initial example to West Atlantic. GECAS has to date announced plans to have at least 50 737-800 passenger aircraft converted to freighters.

AEI forecasts 750 737-800s will undergo freighter conversion over the next 40-plus years and it says it can capture around half of that market. The company has already secured 111 firm orders and commitments for the 737- 800SF. The Miami-based company now holds more than 120 STCs for conversions of various single-aisle aircraft from regional jets up to narrowbodies. The organisation said it sees continuing demand for its 737-400SF conversion for 737-400s as well as 737-800 conversions.