Boeing has officially placed the Dreamlifter in service to bring personal protective equipment (PPE) from Hong Kong to the United States. The first Dreamlifter flight landed in Greenville, South Carolina on April 26th.
Dreamlifter flies in PPE from Hong Kong
Prisma Health, the largest healthcare system in South Carolina, was in need of personal protective equipment to treat patients. So, Boeing came together with Atlas Air and the founder of Discommon– a consulting and innovation business– to bring in PPE from Hong Kong.
According to a press release from the manufacturer, Discommon was able to secure the protective gear from manufacturers in China. Then, Boeing and Atlas Air cooperated on the flight. Boeing donated the cost of the mission transport and the Dreamlifter for the flight while Atlas Air operated it on behalf of Boeing. This mission marked the realization of the aircraft manufacturer’s offer to use the massive cargo plane to transport medical aid.
The modified 747-400 flew out of the East Asian city to Greenville, South Carolina. The face masks were stored in the lower lobe of the plane. A total of 1.5 million masks are headed for Prisma Health professionals on the frontlines of patient care.
Dave Calhoun, Boeing’s president and CEO, offered the following statement:
“Boeing is proud to be part of this historic flight to bring vital PPE to healthcare workers across South Carolina. I want to offer my personal thanks to the Boeing team and our Atlas Air partners for what they’ve done to support this essential mission and ensure our frontline healthcare workers have the equipment they critically need.”
A natural choice
Boeing was a natural choice for assisting in the mission. In North Charleston– another city in South Carolina– Boeing has a plant assembling 787 aircraft. In fact, this plant was where President Trump spoke at the debut of the 787-10. The Dreamlifter that flew this flight is based in North Charleston and will return to its role in delivering Dreamliner parts. In total, there are four Dreamlifter aircraft.
Atlas Air operated these flights on behalf of Boeing. This is because Boeing does not operate these aircraft itself. Instead, it is outsourced to this airline.
This carrier is well-known for its cargo flights using both 747-400s and 747-8s among other aircraft. A good number of Atlas Air flights are operated on behalf of other airlines. And, the carrier does also have a passenger fleet that comes in use for special charters.
Additional flights using the Dreamlifter and ecoDemonstrator are planned. The planning process for missions like these takes time since Boeing has to work with suppliers and government officials to comply with all standards and practices of safety.
Special support missions
Earlier this month, Boeing also marshaled its 737 business jet to transport supplies to New Hampshire. Compared to the 737, however, the Dreamlifter obviously carries multiple times more cargo than the relatively small business jet.
Boeing’s progress on making jets has slowed as states issue stay-at-home orders and customers seek deferments of deliveries. Although, American Airlines recently took delivery of a brand new Boeing 787-8 before sending it off to storage.
With this in mind, it makes sense for Boeing to contribute the Dreamlifter for special support missions like these. The need for supplies is currently greater than the capacity of current flights. As a result, Boeing is joining the league of companies and airlines chartering or operating cargo-only flights.
Are you glad to see the Boeing Dreamlifter get involved with cargo flights? Let us know in the comments!