Shortly after reaching the halfway mark with the joint GECAS and IAI conversion project, the Israeli firm flew the jet as part of a commemorative flypast
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) flew the world’s first Boeing 777-300ERSF in a commemorative flypast to mark the 73rd anniversary of Israeli independence.
The jet – which has been dubbed the “Big Twin” – took part in the display on April 15 and flew alongside two Gulfstream G280 business jets over Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada.
Earlier this week, joint venture partner GECAS revealed that the project had passed the halfway phase of the supplemental type certificate (STC) development programme.
The pair have now moved from the planning stage into the phase of physically modifying the aircraft.
Rich Greener, SVP and manager of GECAS Cargo, explained: “We’ve begun executing on the dedicated freighter design developed by the IAI and GECAS Cargo team towards manufacturing the kits, and the actual conversion phase under a licensing from Boeing.”
Yosef Melamed, IAI EVP and general manager of Aviation Group, added: “The Big Twin is scheduled to be officially inducted into the IAI 777-300ER P2F Line 1 in Tel Aviv to commence the prototype conversion towards the end of June 2021. This is an exciting milestone for the Big Twin freighter programme.”
The prototype 777-300ER, N557CC (c/n 32789), was delivered to IAI’s facility in Tel Aviv by GECAS in June last year — a full six months ahead of the initial timeline.
Since then, ground and flight tests have been completed as the prototype aircraft travelled between Tel Aviv and the United States. The widebody has now returned to Tel Aviv to enter its pre-conversion preparation phase.
A new passenger to freighter conversion programme requires significant planning and preparation before modifications — such as the addition of the main deck cargo door, freighter lining, window plugs, a modified crew compartment, a reinforced fuselage, an all-new floor structure to support the 222,000lbs maximum payload, a 9G rigid cargo barrier, and a powered cargo loading system — can get underway.
Michigan-based cargo airline Kalitta Air is slated to be the launch customer for the type. The firm signed a deal for three examples in October last year.