Three Boeing Dreamlifters Fly PPE To South Carolina In Convoy

Boeing has teamed up with the Medical University of South Carolina to deliver planeloads of face shields and eye goggles to health professionals in South Carolina. Three of Boeing’s distinctive 747 Dreamlifters flew in convoy from the United States’ west coast to Charleston, South Carolina, earlier today. Boeing says it’s all part of the company’s continuing efforts to help out with the health crisis.

Boeing flew three planeloads of PPE across to Charleston earlier today on its Dreamlifters. Photo: Getty Images.

“It’s incredible to see American companies rise to meet the numerous challenges our nation faces in this battle against COVID-19. I’m particularly proud of Boeing for airlifting personal protective equipment to South Carolina for the MUSC hospital system,” said South Carolina’s Rep. Ralph Norman in a statement.

Personal protective equipment hitches a ride on the Dreamlifters

Atlas Air operated the three Dreamlifter flights on behalf of Boeing. It saw medical supplies loaded into the lower lobe of the planes while the main deck carried 787 Dreamliner components to Boeing’s 787 production line at Charleston. Ferrying aircraft components is the Dreamlifter’s core purpose, but Boeing was happy to have the personal protective equipment carried across at their expense.

The three Dreamlifters that flew into Charleston today are 5Y4531, 5Y4532, and 5Y4536. Having flown in from Incheon, South Korea, on Sunday, 5Y4531 left Anchorage, Alaska, in the early hours of this morning. The mega jumbo flew 6,030 kilometers across North America before landing at 10:56 today, Charleston time.


Just before 03:00 today, 5Y4532 departed Everett, Washington, to fly over to Charleston. This flight was slightly shorter at 3,989 kilometers. Flying time was four and a half hours, and the plane touched down at 10:25 Charleston time.

The third Dreamlifter, 5Y4536, left Everett one hour after 5Y4532. It followed a similar flight path to the second Dreamlifter, arriving into Charleston at 11:27 this morning.

All three flights landed in Charleston before lunchtime today. Photo: Altair78 via Wikimedia Commons.

South Carolina State Senator Marlon Kimpson commented on the mission, saying,

“I’m grateful for the dedicated workers we have in South Carolina – from the manufacturing lines to the front lines – and today’s delivery is another example of how South Carolinians come together. Being able to expand our testing efforts at this level is critical in helping us tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and care for our community.

“Teamwork across industries and organizations demonstrates the spirit of our State. Thank you to everyone, especially MUSC and Boeing, who made today’s vital delivery possible.”

Freight aircraft playing a critical role in getting supplies through

While the personal protective equipment is sorely needed in South Carolina’s health system, today’s flights also highlight the role aircraft are playing in getting essential supplies through.

With Boeing bearing the cost of today’s flights, the mass grounding of passenger flights is proving a financial boon for dedicated freight operators like Atlas Air.

Atlas Air operates 123 dedicated freighters on behalf of a variety of businesses. That includes a swag of aircraft for Amazon Air and DHL. The operator also flies four Dreamlifters for Boeing. While acknowledging the uncertainty surrounding global aviation, Atlas Air expects to fly around 80,000 hours this quarter and generate net revenue of $770 million.

Boeing bore the cost of flying the PPE into South Carolina today. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia Commons.

Atlas Air outlook contrasts with Boeing’s outlook

That rosy financial outlook is in marked contrast to Boeing’s financial outlook. But with 787 production re-starting in South Carolina, the Dreamlifters are needed to transport components. Any excess cargo space may as well be put to good use. Today’s flights presented Atlas Air with more business, builds goodwill for Boeing, and help out South Carolina’s health system. It’s a win for everybody.

As North Charleston’s Mayor Keith Summey said today.

“Through the generosity and logistical might of Boeing, our local health care providers are receiving much-needed equipment to keep them safe while they care for the most vulnerable in our community. We should all be inspired by the efforts of Boeing and their teammates because together, all challenges can be met.”