A New Type: Air Belgium Set To Start Flying Cargo Boeing 747-8s

According to a job listing posted by the airline, Air Belgium is looking at flying Boeing 747-8s for cargo operations. The role is for full-time positions, requiring potential applicants to have at least 1,500 hours of experience flying Boeing jets.

Air Belgium, Boeing 747, Pilots
Air Belgium is looking to hire Boeing 747-8 pilots. Photo: Getty Images

Despite being called the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747 is becoming a rare sight in Europe, at least as a passenger jet. While Lufthansa remains committed by the type, British Airways, KLM, and more have retired their remaining 747s in recent years. Despite this, one European airline appears to be actively looking towards the jet, albeit in a cargo capacity.

Air Belgium seeking the Boeing 747-8

According to a job listing posted by Air Belgium and spotted by Aviation24.be, the airline is planning to start flying cargo Boeing 747-8s. In the job listing, Air Belgium explains,

“Air Belgium is starting up operations on B747-8 Freighters beginning of next year and are looking for flight crew members.”

Air Belgium, Boeing 747, Pilots
According to the listing, Air Belgium will start flying the type in early 2022. Photo: Getty Images

The listing reveals that the airline is looking for both Captains and First Officers for the fleet. Prospective Captains will need at least 5,000 hours of experience with a type rating on the Boeing 747, 777, 787, or 737NG. Meanwhile, the bar sits at 2,000 hours for potential first officers.

In addition, all potential pilots must have an EASA license and medical certificate and the right to live and work in Belgium. All applicants must have fully up-to-date vaccine credentials, including the COVID-19 vaccine. In the 24 hours that the listing has been active, almost 200 applications have been received.

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A fourth aircraft type

The Boeing 747-8 will be the fourth aircraft type to be operated by Air Belgium and the second to have four engines. The airline was started with four Airbus A340-300 aircraft when the type was shunned by most of the industry. The airline’s initial commercial routes didn’t get off to a great start, but wet lease operations proved promising.

Air Belgium, Boeing 747, Pilots
Boeing is preparing to deliver its last 747 next year. Photo: Getty Images

As the continued impacts of the pandemic became apparent, the airline took delivery of four A330-220 freighters earlier this year. The aircraft are all seven years old or less, having previously flown with Qatar Airways.

The airline is now diversifying its passenger fleet. In a huge step away from the gas-guzzling Airbus A340, the airline is halfway through taking a couple of Airbus A330-900 neo jets that Airbus has been struggling to get rid of for some time.

The Boeing 747-8 would allow Air Belgium to grow its cargo offering, with the type carrying a massive amount of cargo and more efficient than the older 747 variants. Boeing is now making the final 747-8s ahead of closing the production line. These are all already accounted for, suggesting that Air Belgium would look for second-hand jets. While the 747-8 failed to gain popularity in passenger spheres, it has become a popular cargo aircraft.

What do you make of Air Belgium’s plan to fly the Boeing 747-8? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!