What Is Boeing’s Humanitarian Delivery Flight Program?

Yesterday a 787-9 took off from Boeing’s Washington facilities for Addis Ababa – a delivery flight for Ethiopian Airlines. This delivery was the most recent flight of Boeing’s Humanitarian Delivery Flight program, which has been operating since 1992. So what is this program all about, and which airlines have been recipients of this humanitarian assistance? Let’s take a look.

787-9 maiden flight
Boeing’s Humanitarian Delivery Flight Program is now in its 28th year. Photo: Boeing

Humanitarian assistance around the world

According to Boeing, the Humanitarian Delivery Flight Program was launched in 1992 as “a collaboration between Boeing and its customers to transport humanitarian supplies assistance around the world on newly delivered airplanes with otherwise empty cargo holds.”

To date, the American planemaker says that there have been over 200 humanitarian delivery flights. More than 1.6 million pounds of critical supplies have been delivered since the start of the program.

“Boeing airplanes crisscross the globe everyday, flying under the banners of our airline partners…Our relationships with them are essential to our commercial business, but they also present opportunities such as this to help make the world a better place.” -Marlin Dailey, vice president of sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (2009)

ethiopian 787-9
The most recent Humanitarian Delivery Flight took place just yesterday. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons 

What has the program done so far?

With over 200 Humanitarian Delivery Flights completed by Boeing, we can’t list every recipient. However, here are a few examples and fun facts associated with the program.

Ethiopian Airlines: In October of 2017, Ethiopian Airlines marked its 32nd Humanitarian Delivery Flight with Boeing. Having taken additional Boeing jets since then, we would imagine this number is around 40, assuming most deliveries to Ethiopian are part of the program. Yesterday’s delivery flight had supplies bound for hospitals, clinics, and charities in the Addis Ababa region. Some of the medical supplies, clothing, and hygiene products will be provided to the Mary Joy Foundation, which helps women and youth in Ethiopia access skills and training to rise out of poverty.

Previous flights have also included defibrillators and antibiotics for a hospital and schools in Somalia. Another recipient through Ethiopian Airlines was a refugee camp needing medication and school supplies.

Ethiopian 787-9 humanitarian aid delivery
Aid waiting to be loaded onto an Ethiopian 787 delivery flight. Photo: Boeing

Emirates and Pakistan International Airlines: Far back in 2009, Boeing had two missions, involving deliveries of 777 jetliners. These flights brought aid to the remote Swat Valley of Pakistan, providing medical supplies to those displaced by military conflicts in the region.

In June of 2009, Emirates and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) delivered 10 wood pallets (7,453 pounds) of medical supplies to the Pakistani Institute of Prosthetic and Orthotic Sciences. Two months later, in August, Boeing, Emirates, and PIA worked to bring 18 wood pallets (16,076 pounds) loaded with medical supplies to International Medical Corps for distribution. In both missions, Emirates flew supplies to its hub in Dubai, where they were transferred to a PIA flight for delivery into Pakistan.

Emirates 777
Emirates, in coordination with PIA, has delivered aid to Pakistan. Photo: Emirates

2009 also saw a Shenzhen Airlines’ 737-800 delivered. The aircraft was loaded with cone masks and coveralls to help people in the earthquake-stricken areas of Sichuan Province in China.

NOK Air: In 2016, a 737-800 transported and delivered nearly 30 boxes full of relief items, including clothes and school supplies, to The Children’s Advocacy Center Thailand (ACT), a non-profit organization working with abused children and youth in Thailand.

An excellent public relations and outreach initiative

This program is a great way for Boeing to earn the loyalty of its customers while at the same time providing its airline customers with their own positive public relations. Ultimately, the program seems like a great idea and a win-win-win for Boeing, the airline partner, and the recipients of this aid.

“Turning empty space into a life-saving gift takes the ingenuity of Boeing employees, customers and airline partners who have joined forces on an innovative program that brings needed humanitarian supplies to people and communities.” -Boeing

What do you think of the Humanitarian Flight Delivery program? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.