Christmas came a bit early for Colombia-based Avianca, when Boeing delivered a 787-8 aircraft (37511) on 21 December, 2016. And not just any 787, but the 500th of the type to enter service since the first unit was delivered to All Nippon Airways in 2011.
While it will be many years before a 787 freighter becomes available, the popularity of the type in passenger configuration (it reached 500 deliveries faster than any other widebody) has had a significant impact on the air freight industry in two respects. First, the 787 is a better belly cargo machine than the aircraft it replaced (Boeing’s 767). The 787 offers up to seven pallet positions (depending on model) compared to the four available in a 767-300, and also has significantly longer range.
Second, and perhaps more important, once a steady stream of 787s began entering service, the 767-300ERs they replaced became available for conversion to freighter configuration.