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Although freight business through air cargo is not new. From the very days, the concept of mail and small cargo had already started. The invention Wright Brothers gifted to this world became a utility that cannot be over-emphasized. Everyone accepts the fact that air travel or air cargo had become the need of the time. Boeing and Airbus have always remained the leading players in commercial aviation. However, Boeing took the lead in air freighters especially its variant Boeing 747 F became the hot favorite of many carriers.
Basic Design And Specifications
The 747-400F is a cargo version of Being family and belongs to the class of Boeing’s 747-400s. It carries a maximum gross payload of 128.5 metric tonnes due to its wide fuselage. It has a maximum fuel capacity of 216,846 liters. Interestingly, this variant of Boeing has multiple openings, unlike the Airbus where only one door is available for entry and exit purposes. The Boeing 747-F has a large side door and an additional ‘nose door’; thus making loading quite easy and flexible. This provision also helps in fast loading and unloading with a quick turnaround,
Cargo is in the Blood of Boeing
The fact cannot be denied that Boeing has forever embraced freighter variants as part of its product lineup. Just about any type of aircraft ever developed by Boeing; has been either offered as a factory-built freighter or has been supported for a passenger to freight conversions by the manufacturer.
The exception to this fact is the 787 Dreamliner. It has never been offered as a cargo aircraft as yet. Nobody knows what the future holds but Boeing has a strong position in the freight aircraft market. So apparently, there seems to be no need to spend the time and investment in developing a Dreamliner freighter. At the moment, Boeing has adequate choices for freighter aircraft. It is further supporting the market with its Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) program. Although it is planning to draw a line under the 747F Program with the last aircraft to be produced by 2022, it has the cargo market all sewn up with the 777F, 767F, and it’s 737-800 and 767-300 BCF.
Boeing 747-400F engines
Boeing 747F has a wide fuselage as mentioned earlier. It has low wings with four turbofan engines. Multiple engine options are available for Boeing 747F that include Pratt & Whitney PW4062, General Electric CF6-80C2B5F, and Rolls-Royce RB211-524H2-T turbo-fan engines, developing between 252kN and 276kN. Boeing 747-8F has the GenX engine installed on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
There are four main fuel tanks in the wings, a center wing tank, a tailplane tank, and reserve fuel tanks in the outer wing sections. The maximum fuel capacity is 216,846l. The auxiliary power unit is installed in the tail section.
Popularity Among the Carriers
Boeing received the first order of 747-400 Freighter from Cargolux Airlines International in 1989. Boeing claims that approximately 300 of the 747 freighters are in operational service around the globe, and sharing about half of the world’s freighter air cargo.
The Boeing 747F makes up two-thirds of the world’s widebody freighter fleet. Some of the prominent names using the Boeing 747F include Asiana Airlines (six), Atlas Air (16), Cargolux Airlines (14), Cathay Pacific (six), China Airlines (21), China Cargo Airlines (two), China Southern (two), EVA Air (three), GE Capital (five), Guggenheim Aviation (six), ILFC (four), Jade Cargo International (six), Japan Airlines (two), KLM (three), Korean Air (17), Nippon Cargo Aircraft (eight), Singapore Airlines (17), UPS (eight) and Volga-Dnepr (two).
In November 2005, Boeing launched the 747-8 aircraft that included both passenger and freighter versions. The 747-8 F is different from other variants due to its greater payload and longer range of 14,816 km (8,000 nautical miles). The Boeing 747-8 F is a bit longer than its predecessor freighter version. The increased capacity of the Boeing 747-8 freighter makes it carry four additional main-deck pallets, two additional lower-hold pallets, and two additional lower-hold containers.
Boeing 747 F has been popular among the freight carriers due to its larger capacity, range, and most of all multiple accessibilities for cargo loading/unloading. This particular variant of Boeing has been modified into multiple sub-variants according to the customized requirements of the customer. The Boeing 747-8F is the latest version of the freighter. Hopefully, it will continue for a while unless something comes up with better capacity and range. Freight carriers are also interested in keeping this variant, as it is meeting their needs in all domains of capacity, range, affordability, and flexibility.
Featured Image: Flickr
Written by guest writer, Faisal Bashir