The Newest Boeing Cargo Plane: The 777-300ERSF

In one way, the Boeing 777-300ERSF is a new aircraft that will soon be entering service as a freighter. In another way, much of this first aircraft example is anything but new, having an age of 16 and a half years. That’s because the 777-300ERSF is a passenger-to-freighter conversion. With the first of its kind soon to enter service with Kalitta Air, let’s take a look at what this jet has to offer.

The first 777-300ERSF was withdrawn from use as a passenger jet in early 2020 and converted in early 2021 by IAI and GECAS. Photo: GE/IAI

“Over the course of these past two years, we have invested thousands of hours coupled with engineering and logistical efforts, in order to reach this moment in accordance with the original schedule.” -Yossi Melamed, Executive VP of the Aviation Group at IAI

The result of a major partnership

It was actually back in October 2019, before the global health crisis, that Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and GECAS announced a partnership to “reshape the air cargo world of long-haul, large capacity freighters” with the launch of the 777-300ERSF, which they call “The Big Twin.”

“IAI and GECAS are combining forces to form a unique solution for aircraft feedstock and conversion capability. And all supported by GECAS Engines’ leasing and GE Aviation for ongoing engine support solutions.” -GECAS statement

The two firms promise that this new type will offer more volume at a lower cost, as well as great range and commonality.

Let’s take a look at where the very first -300ERSF is coming from, as work has been ongoing in recent weeks.

A former Emirates passenger jet

The very first 777-300ERSF coming out of IAI’s facilities already has more than 16 years of history to it. Indeed, the 777-300ER with MSN 32789 and Line Number 508 was first registered as A6-EBB and delivered to Emirates in 2005. A passenger aircraft, this jet was configured with the following layout:

  • Eight seats in first class
  • 42 seats in business class
  • 310 in economy

After almost 15 years of faithful service, the jet was officially withdrawn from passenger use in February of 2020.

GECAS would go on to repossess the leased aircraft from Emirates and re-register it as OE-IHW and then N557CC. Marked for conversion, work on the jet would take place at IAI facilities in Tel Aviv (see video above).

“The conversion process will take approximately 130 days, at the end of which the passenger aircraft will be turned into a freighter aircraft.” -IAI

777-300ERSF specs
With 777-300ERs due to age-out of service and be replaced by the 777X in the coming years, IAI will give old passenger aircraft a new life in the cargo world. Photo: GE/IAI

Due in 2022

The aircraft, now registered as N557CC, will eventually enter service with major cargo operator Kalitta Air. This is expected to take place in 2022.

Before this particular aircraft’s entry-into-service, however, it will work to achieve regulatory approval and certification from the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI) and the Federal Aviation Administration. Given IAI’s solid history of converting passenger aircraft to freighters (including the 747, 767, and 737), there shouldn’t be a problem with its conversion of the 777. Should all go well, conversion work for future 777s will take place in Abu Dhabi, with Etihad taking part in the process.

According to its website, IAI says that the 777-300ERSF will deliver “twin-engine efficiency” by burning 21% less fuel per tonne than the 747-400 freighters. At the same time, it will have a “big-cargo” capability with 25% more volume than the 777-200F (Production Freighter) while retaining 90% commonality with the smaller twin.

As shown in the diagram above, the ERSF’s spacious cargo hold will be able to handle multiple configurations of ULD containers, applicable to both commercial and military applications.

Do you think this product will be a big hit among cargo operators? Let us know by leaving a comment.