The 787 is one of Boeing’s most successful widebody aircraft to date, with over 1,500 orders for the type. Despite this success, Boeing hasn’t released a freighter version of the 787, as it has for other widebody variants such as the 747, 777, and 767. So why haven’t we seen a 787 freighter yet?
The air cargo market has seen significant growth this year, with freighter aircraft in high demand since passenger flights remain grounded. In this market, aircraft such as the 747F and 777F have been in pole position to fill this demand, allowing some airlines to even turn a profit from cargo operations. However, even despite this rise in demand, Boeing hasn’t announced any plans to offer a 787 Freighter.
One possible reason for this could be the cost of developing a freighter variant of the 787. Boeing would have to redesign key parts of the aircraft, go through rigorous certification checks, and then find customers for the new plane.
While airlines have been looking for more cargo aircraft, it’s unlikely they will be willing to spend billions on new planes in the midst of this current crisis. Without multiple firm orders, Boeing is unlikely to invest billions into building a new 787F.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Boeing is also dealing with a financial crisis, with the manufacturing giant losing $3.5bn in the first nine months of 2020. The losses have forced the company to cut jobs and scale back production as passenger aircraft demand remains low. With the background of such financial constraints, Boeing is focusing on getting the 737 MAX in the air before investing in new projects.
Another reason Boeing is not making a 787F is simply that there are enough options on the market. Boeing alone offers the 747F, 777F, 767F, and the 737BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter). These four aircraft cover nearly every part of the cargo aircraft market, with the only small gap remaining between the 767 and 777. However, this size gap likely doesn’t justify building a 787 freighter.
Boeing already offers four freighter aircraft models, filling most of the market’s requirements. Photo: Getty Images
With Boeing already offering so many options to customers, the need for a 787F may not exist right now. As noted earlier, airlines are looking to convert their existing aircraft into freighters or buying second-hand ones rather than investing in a brand new model.
Will there be one in the future?
While the market for the 787F may not exist today, that is not to say it will not emerge in the coming years. The growing age of many 767 and 747-400 freighters means airlines might start looking for alternatives in the coming years. The 787 lightweight construction and modern technologies give it a leg up among the next generation of cargo planes.
Boeing may also opt to develop the 787F soon to ensure its continued dominance over Airbus, which has historically struggled in the cargo market. While a 787F could well become a reality in the future, there enough reasons why Boeing hasn’t already built one of these.
Do you think we’ll see a 787 Freighter soon? Let us know in the comments below!