Boeing’s bestseller the 737 has not only proven itself in the past years as being a reliable passenger aircraft, but more recently as a freighter version with an uplift of up to 15
The large majority of the B737Fs on the market are one-time passenger versions having lived out their pax lives and then been converted into freighters. The B737-300 and -400 series aircraft have been the favourite ones for conversion.
There are many of these aircraft operating short and medium haul services throughout the world.
Many also operate as feeder aircraft for the large integrators to and from their various worldwide hubs.
They are an attractive aircraft for such services, being relatively cheap to acquire and the conversion costs are also seen to be acceptable.
Boeing looks at the BBJ 737-Combi
The U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer is presently studying the possibility of introducing a passenger/combi version of its successful 737-700 series aircraft.
According to information received by CargoForwarder Global, this new version would basically resemble the C-40 Clipper, a 737 variant, which is presently in use with the U.S. Navy.
Less payload than its all freighter sisters
The cargo payload would only be around 4 tons which would be carried on pallets in the forward section of the aircraft.
The rear area would have seating for up to 70 passengers, whereby the belly holds would mainly be reserved for passenger baggage.
There has been no official commitment from Boeing to produce this aircraft but the company is presently sounding out the market before taking a decision one way or the other.
The Boeing managers seem to see a future for this aircraft within both governmental and commercial areas.
One idea is to market the new BBJ 737-Combi for the carriage of relief supplies into remote areas and also give operators the possibility of carrying relief personnel in the rear.
Boeing states that it is possible to install a large cargo door just aft of the main front entrance.
Medical evacuation services is also seen as a possible market for the new variant.
On the commercial side the idea has arisen that this aircraft would be welcomed by the oil and gas industry for carrying urgent and sensitive equipment and staff into the oilfields.
A long way to go yet before any decision is made
The manufacturer admits that this type of 737 would be geared towards niche markets and any further development depends on customer demands and needs.
If a go-ahead were given, then the first aircraft could be operating commercially within two years according to Boeing.
There are presently four BBJs in service which can be converted at short notice from passenger to cargo and vice versa, but which cannot be used as combi aircraft.
Let’s wait and see.
John Mc Donagh