Bermuda-based Longtail Aviation will soon introduce another 747-400 to its cargo operations but, unlike the two currently in its fleet, this is not a freighter.
Longtail told Cargo Facts that today it flew unit 29406, an ex-Virgin Atlantic 747-400 built in 1998 and equipped with General Electric CF6-80C2 engines, to Stansted (STN) where the aircraft will undergo an interior reconfiguration and have its passenger cabin stripped to maximize cargo volume.
The 747, now registered in Bermuda, had arrived in Tel Aviv (TLV) for maintenance in December 2020, shortly after being delisted from the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority’s register. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which is still capable of converting 747-400s to full freighters, recently confirmed to Cargo Facts that it had not carried out any conversion work on the aircraft.
Longtail did not comment further on whether it expects to operate unit 29406 as a full freighter at a later stage. The carrier entered the freighter market with its first 747-400F in June 2020; that aircraft (27503, ex-Cargolux) is a nose-loading, 1995-vintage production freighter with Rolls-Royce RB211 engines now on lease from CargoJetX, which purchased it from Aquiline International last year.
Cargo Facts believes CargoJetX also owns unit 29406.
Longtail’s other 747 is a 1991 -400BCF (24975, ex-Rubystar Airways) with Pratt & Whitney PW4000-94 engines. With the addition of unit 29406, Longtail will operate three 747-400s with three different configurations and engine types.
Unit 29406 was not the only 747 at TLV; in January 2021, an ex-KLM 747-400 Combi (30454) arrived from Amsterdam (AMS), but IAI also confirmed that the 2000-vintage frame is only undergoing maintenance, at least on this visit. It is unclear if this 747 will join Longtail’s fleet, but we note the aircraft recently also received a Bermudan registration.
Aquiline, for its part, recently acquired three 747-400s that it intends to convert into full freighters.
Longtail will not be the first carrier to operate a reconfigured 747 to carry cargo. Last year, Moldova-based Terra Avia began flying a 747-400 (28959) with its seats removed on behalf of Aerotranscargo.
Meanwhile, other ex-Virgin Atlantic aircraft have also gone on to operate cargo-only flights, with several reconfigured A340-600s joining Malta-based Maleth Aero for operation on behalf of European Cargo.
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