Aircraft lessor GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) closed the Paris Air Show with the announcement of an order with Aeronautical Engineers, Inc for up to twenty 737-800 passenger-to-freighter conversions.
AEI was the first of the conversion houses to announce the formal launch of a P-to-F program for the current generation of narrowbody aircraft, and at the Cargo Facts Asia event in Hong Kong two months ago, said it had booked orders for up to 50 conversions from two customers.
Guessing the identity of those customers became something of a popular game in the air freight world, and GECAS was always a prime candidate. It has, for many years, been the biggest lessor of freighter aircraft, with an installed base of almost fifty 737 Classic freighters operated by airlines in Europe, China, and the Americas. It also has a fleet of over 250 737-800s, the oldest of which, at 17 years, are approaching the prime age for conversion.
So today’s announcement comes as no surprise, but is nonetheless welcome news, in that it indicates that at least one major player in the narrowbody freighter market believes demand will continue strong into the foreseeable future.
GECAS said it expected the conversion of the first aircraft to be complete in the third quarter of 2017, and that it hoped to be able to have two or three 737-800Fs ready to fly in that year’s peak season.
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