GECAS (a GE’s company) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) plan to perform the fist conversion of the passenger plane Boeing 777-300ER to freighter. Dubbed “The Big Twin”(denoting 777 as the largest ever twin-engined freighter) the initiative is jointly funded by GECAS and IAI. According to the agreement between the two, GECAS will commit fifteen firm orders and has fifteen additional options for the 777-300ERSF.GECAS and IAI believe that The Big Twin has the capability to seamlessly replace aging 747-400 and MD11 freighters.
The 777-300ER is the most successful widebody variant in aviation history, with almost 850 sold. 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 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. Entering service in 2022, the Big Twin will offer operators 25% more capacity than today’s smaller twin-engined long-haul freighters and is expected achieve up to 21% lower fuel-burn per tonne than 4-engine freighters. This new agreement marks a continuation of a twenty-plus year partnership between GECAS and IAI.
IAI’s experience in conversion programs includes the Boeing 747, 767, 737NG and the 737 Classic. IAI has completed more than 70 conversions of GECAS’ aircraft, including 747, 767 & 737 freighters. 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.