|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||19th December 2005|
Cathay Pacific Airways today became the world's first airline to take delivery of a brand new type of freighter aircraft converted from a Boeing 747-400 passenger jet at a special "roll-out" ceremony attended by more than 500 people in Xiamen, China.
The aircraft's development and delivery is part of Cathay Pacific's biggest ever investment to grow its fleet and network, and strengthen Hong Kong as a global aviation hub and premium gateway to the Chinese Mainland. The aircraft will enter service on 21 December to Penang and afterwards operating routes to Europe and North America.
The gala in Xiamen was hosted by Cathay Pacific Chairman David Turnbull along with Engineering Director Derek Cridland, Vice President and General Manager Boeing Commercial Aviation Services Lou Mancini, Boeing-China President David Wang, and Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Company Limited (TAECO) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chan Ping Kit.
The Boeing 747-400BCF, or Boeing Converted Freighter, was converted from a Cathay Pacific passenger aircraft. The airline has firm orders for six such aircraft, including this one, and options on six more. Creating freighters from existing aircraft makes economic sense and allows the airline to quickly grow its freighter capacity to meet market demand.
The aircraft's transformation took place at TAECO, in Xiamen, where today's ceremony was held. Major structural changes included removing all previous passenger fittings, installing a reinforced floor, cargo handling system and cutting a large loading door in the rear of the aircraft's fuselage.
Cathay Pacific assisted Boeing in the new aircraft type certification process that was conducted in Hong Kong. It was the first time Boeing certified a new aircraft outside of the United States. Conversion work started in April and took five months to complete. The certification programme started in September.
Cathay Pacific Engineering Director Derek Cridland said: "Cathay Pacific has an impressive record of being the first airline to operate new aircraft types. We were the world's first airline to fly the Boeing 777-300 and the Rolls Royce powered Boeing 747-400, the type from which this new freighter has been converted. Our involvement in its certification underscores Hong Kong's position as a centre of global aviation excellence. The addition of further 747-400BCF aircraft to our fleet will allow us to expand our services and further strengthen Hong Kong as the world's busiest international air cargo hub."
"Our Boeing team is thrilled to deliver the first 747-400BCF to Cathay Pacific," said Lou Mancini, vice president and general manager for Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. "I am proud of our Boeing employees who worked in partnership with TAECO to complete this well designed and expertly managed conversion."
TAECO Chairman and Chief Executive Officer PK Chan said: "TAECO is proud to work with Boeing on the 747-700BCF project. The conversion work on the world's first B747-400 aircraft for Cathay Pacific was completed on schedule with the close co-operation amongst Boeing, Cathay Pacific and TAECO. We hereby would like to thank our dedicated staff for their hard work day and night."
Last month Cathay Pacific expanded its freighter network with a new three-times-weekly freighter service to Dallas and Atlanta in the United States. It also announced its biggest-ever new aircraft acquisition with orders for 16 long-haul Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and purchase rights on 20 more. It also made commitments to acquire three Airbus A330-300s via operating leases for regional services. The airline will have 100 aircraft in 2006, its 60th Anniversary.
At the ceremony, TAECO, in which both Cathay Pacific and Boeing have shares, marked the opening of a fourth maintenance hangar commissioned specifically to convert further freighters.
The world's first Boeing 747-400BCF, or Boeing Converted Freighter, is unveiled at a special "roll-out" ceremony today by Cathay Pacific Chairman David Turnbull (third from left) along with Vice President and General Manager Boeing Commercial Aviation Services Lou Mancini (third from left), and Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Company Limited (TAECO) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chan Ping Kit (second from right).
The B747-400BCF's development and delivery is part of Cathay Pacific's biggest ever investment to grow its fleet and network, and strengthen Hong Kong as a global aviation hub and premium gateway to the Chinese Mainland.
Cathay Pacific is the launch customer of the conversion programme, the Boeing 747-400BCF is installed with a side cargo door, a strengthened main-deck floor, full main-deck lining, a new cargo handling system and a revised flight-deck system.
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