Seattle. Just another city.
Or maybe not. If you’ve ever ordered something online – a book, a kitchen appliance, a lawn chair, or anything else – Seattle is important to you, because that is where Amazon is (you did order that lawn chair from Amazon, right?).
It is also where Boeing Field is, and it was at Boeing Field (BFI) today that Amazon unveiled its first branded freighter.
Air Transport Services Group has been operating 767 freighters for the e-commerce giant for almost a year now — at first in a top-secret test network, and more recently in the public eye – but those freighters have been flying in the livery of ATSG’s subsidiary carriers ABX Air and Air Transport International. ATSG, however, is no longer alone in operating freighters for Amazon, and the first aircraft to showcase the new livery will be operated by Atlas Air.
That freighter, a 767-300ER passenger aircraft formerly in the fleet of Nordwind Airlines, and converted to freighter configuration by Bedek Aviation Group, has been hidden in a hanger at BFI until today, when Amazon formally unveiled it.
The unveiling ceremony gave us a chance to get a lot of photos, but although senior executives from Amazon, Atlas, ATSG, and Boeing were present, not many secrets were revealed. We did learn a few things though, and we’ll share them here, but before we get to that dull stuff, let’s start with the coolest thing … um… maybe “nerdiest thing” is a better word… of all.
This freighter has been registered as N1997A. Mabye that just looks like a string of letters and numbers to you, but there is more to it than meets the eye. First, 1997 was the year Amazon went public. Which is sort of historical, but no big deal. But there’s something else about the number 1,997… It is, yes, a prime number. And not only has Amazon branded its airline “Prime Air” but says it will register all of its aircraft with prime numbers.
Seattle truly is Nerd Central.
Now, before we get to the photos and videos, a few takeaways from a brief chat with Dave Clark, Amazon’s SVP Worldwide Operations.
- Most of the forty 767 freighters in the Prime Air fleet will operate on a hub-and-spoke basis from the ATSG hub in Wilmington (ILN). Howwever, some will be used on point-to-point north-south routes on the east and west coasts of the US, and some on east-west routes.
- Amazon does not see a greater percentage of its shipments moving by air as a result of the launch of its own-controlled network. It believes total shipments will continue to grow strongly, but that the percentage moving by air will stay roughly the same.
- The choice of the 767 as the platform for the first forty aircraft in its freighter fleet was made based on the belief that enough traffic was moving in Amazon’s US domestic logistics business to fill forty such large freighters. However, the company remains open to the possible addition of smaller freighters in the future.
And a last comment before we get to the video and photos: If you are interested in the impact that e-commerce is having on the air freight and express industries, join us at the Cargo Facts Symposium in Miami, 10 – 12 October, where senior executives from both Atlas and ATSG will share there views on the subject. To register, or for more information, go to www.cargofactssymposium.com.
With that out of the way, let’s start with a timelapse video of the painting of Amazon One.
And some photos from the unveiling…
Amazon’s Dave Clark introduces his new toy.
While “Prime Air” is the official brand, you’ll see the word “Amazon” whenever the freighters fly directly overhead