Last week, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines put its first freighter-converted 737-700F into commercial service with a maiden flight between Seattle and Anchorage. The aircraft was converted by Israel Aerospace Industries’ conversion arm, Bedek Aviation Group, in Tel Aviv, and is the first of three 737-700s Alaska Air retired from its passenger fleet, and is having converted into freighter configuration to replace its ageing 737-400 combi aircraft.
Alaska says the three -700Fs will boost the capacity of its freighter fleet by 15% once it has taken delivery of its second, and third 737-700Fs, and retires its existing 747-400 Combis. The final four remaining -400 combis are expected to be removed from commercial service by 18 October, while a Alaska’s sole 737-400F will continue to operate alongside the 737-700Fs.
As readers of Cargo Facts know, in addition to IAI/Bedek, Aeronautical Engineers, Boeing, and ATSG-subsidiary PEMCO all offer 737 NG conversions. Meanwhile, EFW launched “P2F” programs for both the A320 and A321, Precision Aircraft Solutions and ATSG formed a joint venture, 321 Precision Conversions, and launched an A321 P-to-F program, and California-based C3 Aerospace has also announced its intent to convert A320 family aircraft.
New generation narrowbody freighter conversions have already racked up hundreds of orders and commitments, and by next year at this time, we expect at least one additional conversion house will have re-delivered an NG freighter.
In celebration of the first 737-700F re-delivery, here’s a video of cargo being loaded onto Alaska’s 737-700BDSF via an Ancra cargo loading system (Video credit: Gregory Dutson).