Boeing flew a special 737 to China on a mission to bring vital medical supplies to the United States. The mission was operated in conjunction with FIRST Robotics Founder, Dean Kamen. Completed on April 18th, the operation brought 540,000 medical-grade face masks to New Hampshire.
Boeing uses a 737-700 to fly supplies
Boeing marshaled a 737-700 from its corporate fleet to operate the mission, as detailed in a press release. The aircraft is a business jet version of the popular 737-700. Without a full cabin interior, the aircraft can fly further than commercial 737 aircraft.
The aircraft arrived in New Hampshire on Saturday, April 18th, with 540,000 face masks on board. These will be supplied to healthcare professionals on the front lines.
Boeing’s president and CEO, David Calhoun, offered the following statement:
“I want to personally thank Governor Sununu, the entire New Hampshire congressional delegation and Dean Kamen for their leadership in helping secure and distribute this much-needed personal protective equipment for our frontline healthcare workers and first responders here in New Hampshire. We are honored to have conducted today’s airlift mission and we look forward to providing continued support in the fight against this pandemic.”
While the 737 does not carry as much cargo the 767 or 777, for this mission, it was just right. Unlike many other medical shipments, this was only for face masks and not other supplies like face shields.
Another life-saving delivery of PPE has arrived in NH. Thanks to Dean Kamen for facilitating this deal, and to @Boeing for donating the cost of this mission transport. The state will deliver these masks to the greatest areas of need & to those on the frontlines fighting #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/D6bJ6MXwV0
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) April 18, 2020
The partnership with Dean Kamen
Dean Kamen is the founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics, which is a competition primarily for high schoolers to design robots to compete in various events. Dean Kamen worked with manufacturers of the supplies in China to secure the shipment. Then, he turned to Boeing to provide transportation for the masks.
Boeing is working with US government officials on future missions. In the future, Boeing is looking to deploy the iconic Dreamlifter and the ecoDemonstrator for these tasks. Previously, Boeing did offer up its large cargo transporter to fly in critical medical supplies.
Both of these aircraft would offer significantly more cargo capacity than the 737. Future missions will likely be transporting more medical equipment for hard-hit areas. While New Hampshire is facing many cases, other regions of the United States are also in need of medical equipment.
Boeing vs. Airbus
European rival Airbus has also been heavily involved in transporting medical supplies from China to Europe. However, Airbus has been a bit ahead of the game compared to Boeing. That being said, Europe has been facing this pandemic for a more extended period than the United States.
The United States is not entirely out of the woods yet. Cases do continue to rise and hotspots will continue to develop. Airlines in the US are doing what they can to support efforts as well including making hand sanitizer, flying in ventilators, and operating cargo-only flights to bring in supplies. Now, Boeing is getting involved. In the future, Boeing plans on offering its larger aircraft for future missions.
What do you make of this particular mission? Let us know in the comments!