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Boeing to open freighter conversion lines; to collaborate with Icelease for 737-800BCF
In 2022, the company will open one conversion line at Boeing's London Gatwick Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility, modifying 737-800 commercial aircraft into Boeing Converted Freighters and increasing its footprint in the Crawley area, and two conversion lines in 2023 at KF Aerospace MRO in Kelowna, Canada.

Boeing to open freighter conversion lines; to collaborate with Icelease for 737-800BCF

Boeing announces the addition of three conversion lines for 737-800BCF across North America and Europe. The company also signed a firm order with Icelease for eleven of the freighters as the launch customer for one of the new conversion lines. 

In 2022, the company will open one conversion line at Boeing's London Gatwick Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility, modifying 737-800 commercial aircraft into Boeing Converted Freighters and increasing its footprint in the Crawley area, and two conversion lines in 2023 at KF Aerospace MRO in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. 

“This new work for London Gatwick not only is a result of the cargo demand we’re seeing worldwide, but also because of the aviation industry’s valued position in the United Kingdom,” said Sir Martin Donnelly, president of Boeing Europe and managing director of Boeing in the UK and Ireland. “From Lossiemouth to Sheffield to Gosport to Crawley, Boeing’s footprint in the UK across defence, commercial and services is robust and growing, and today’s announcement is yet another in recent weeks that demonstrates our partnership here.”

"Building a diverse and global network of conversion facilities is critical to supporting our customers' growth and meeting regional demand," said Jens Steinhagen, director of Boeing Converted Freighters. "KF Aerospace and our Boeing teammates at London Gatwick have the infrastructure, capabilities and expertise required to deliver market-leading Boeing Converted Freighters to our customers."

The London Gatwick MRO facility, a £100 million investment completed shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic began, will perform its first freighter conversion for the launch customer Icelease, which announced its first order for 11 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters at the Dubai Airshow.

For Icelease, which recently expanded its cooperation with Corrum Capital through a joint venture called Carolus Cargo Leasing, the order for eleven 737-800BCF will be their first converted freighter order with Boeing. The lessor will be the launch customer for conversions at Boeing's London Gatwick MRO facility.

"We are confident in the quality and proven record of Boeing's 737-800 converted freighter, and pleased to be the launch customer for their new London MRO facility," said Magnus Stephensen, senior partner at Icelease. "We look forward to bringing the freighter in to our fleet to serve our growing global customer base operating domestic and short-haul routes."

Stewart Wingate, chief executive officer, Gatwick Airport said, “Boeing has made a significant investment at Gatwick by building an impressive new hanger and their new freighter conversion line provides another welcome boost for the airport, for the local people who will work there and for the region’s economy.  Boeing’s new line will help meet expected strong demand to convert aircraft into freighters that can carry cargo, which reflects our forecasts that cargo volumes handled at Gatwick could also increase significantly if our future airport plans are realised.”

"We're very excited to be expanding our relationship with Boeing," said Gregg Evjen, chief operating officer, KF Aerospace. "We've been working with the Boeing product line for more than 30 years. With our cargo conversion experience, our highly skilled workforce and all the technical requirements already in place, we're ready to get to work and help serve Boeing's customers." 

The conversion line, which will bring the total facility employee count to 130 upon opening, will be located near Boeing’s Gatwick Training Campus, where an additional 100 Boeing employees are based, along with nine full flight simulators, making it the company’s largest combined training centre outside the United States. Across the UK, Boeing has 2,600 employees and spends £2 billion per year in the country’s supply chain.

Earlier this year, Boeing announced it would create additional 737-800BCF conversion capacity at several sites, including a third conversion line at Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Company Limited (GAMECO), and two conversion lines in 2022 with a new supplier, Cooperativa Autogestionaria de Servicios Aeroindustriales (COOPESA) in Costa Rica. Once the new lines become active, Boeing will have conversion sites in North America, Asia and Europe.

Also Read: Boeing wins more 737-800BCF orders, launches new freighter conversion lines

Boeing forecasts 1,720 freighter conversions will be needed over the next 20 years to meet demand. Of those, 1,200 will be standard-body conversions, with nearly 20 percent of that demand coming from European carriers, and 30 percent coming from North America and Latin America.

The 737-800BCF is the standard body freighter market leader with more than 200 orders and commitments from 19 customers. The 737-800BCF offers higher reliability, lower fuel consumption, lower operating costs per trip and world-class in-service technical support compared to other standard-body freighters.

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