777F Remains Freighter Of Choice

  • A330-200F Sales Slower Than Expected
  • 777F Demand Strong
  • Since A330-200F Launch, 767F Pulled In More Orders*
  • Future 777F Plans Laid Out With 777X

Despite the availability of airplanes for conversion, the 767 Freighter has not suffered any “knock-out” blow by its bigger A330-200 Freighter rival, even though in recent years, the passenger market for the 767  dramatically waned and tapered off as the A330 became and is still an operators favourite for a variety of missions.

As at the end of April 2012*, the A330-200F backlog was just 47 units, marginally ahead of the 767 Freighter with 42 units. The 777F however, remains the most popular mid-to-large size freighter with a backlog of some 68 units.

With 59 deliveries*, one more than the entire backlog for the A330-200F, the 777F is also quietly stealing the thunder away from its bigger 747-8F sibling.

The notion that the 767F would be decimated by the 2007 launch of the A330-200F is somewhat misguided. In fact, since the launch of the A330-200F, the 767F has racked up more orders that its Airbus rival – 62 vs. 58.

But while the future of the 767 family rests more with the KC-46A tanker effort, the rising star has been the 777F, accumulating 127 firm orders*, almost double that of the bigger 747-8F.

Looking beyond the numbers, the A330F is in a worrying position with the bulk of the 47 remaining deliveries in the hands of leasing companies – and with the current sag of the freighter market, finding homes for them while generating profitable leases has been painful. That is part of the reason for customers deferring deliveries and converting some of these to passenger models where demand is more brisk. By extension, there have been just two A330-200F deliveries in 2012.

In contrast, there have been five 767F and six 777F deliveries in the same period.

The ever-expanding pool of 777-300ERs has given rise to the popularity of the 777F, not just because of the inherent value through operational efficiency and commonality, but also because of its versatility through being the world’s longest ranged freighter that can accommodate a mix of weights on missions that cut costs far deeper than many imagine.

Emirates and FedEx are just 777F operators that have seen the benefits of even flying lightly loaded, knowing that their cut in fuel bills runs way beyond double-digit figures for each leg that is operated.

With the progressive push to launch the 777-8X and 777-9X, Emirates has quietly been advocating a full tri-launch of the 777X family to include a 777-8X based freighter model.

Boeing isn’t in any need or rush to do this given the backlog it has on the 777F as well as the strong demand for that airplane, so there’s little incentive to cannibalise what is arguably its most profitable freighter product. A replacement will eventually emerge, but we don’t see that happening anytime soon.

China will assume further 777F orders – irrespective of the quagmire due to the controversial ETS scheme, Chinese airlines are looking away from converted applications to all new solutions. Given the 777Fs reputation and a recent expression to order 20 777-300ERs by China Eastern Airlines, Boeing has an easier time placing jets here, even at lower margins and can outflank Airbus on the A330-200F, which is nowhere near close to recouping development costs.

That said, wherever there’s a 777-300ER operating, it is hard to discount the possibility, if not outright inevitability, that the same customer will procure or already operate the 777F.

*Data as at April 30, 2012 – OEM Sourced

Image Courtesy Of Boeing

2 Replies to “777F Remains Freighter Of Choice”

  1. The 777F is well positioned to replace 747 “Classic” Freighters as well as 747-400 converted freighters.

    According to Boeing, a 747-200F should be able to carry a revenue payload of 110,990kg whilst burning around 77,910kg of fuel on a 3,000nm trip under Boeing rules. The 777F, Boeing claims, can fly a revenue payload 102,870kg whilst burning 51,570kg of fuel over the same stage sector. Both can accommodate 10ft high pallets, and both can accommodate a load-density of around 159kg/cubic meter…”real-world” load density. The only advantage the 747-200F, therefore has, is the slightly larger revenue payload capability as well as, if fitted, a nose-loading cargo door for out-sized materials. But, with reliability concerns, coupled with environmental pressures as well as operational efficiency, the -200F’s slight attributes are completely overshadowed when compared to the 777F’s economics and relatively comparable capabilities.

    Turning to the “newer” 747-400BCF and -400SF, Boeing indicates that these airplanes should be able to carry a revenue payload of 107,842kg whilst burning 8% less fuel than a -200F over a 3,000nm trip in Boeing rules. The 777F, once again, has the economic advantage.

    Then, the major trump card up the 777F’s sleeve is its huge range potential. At a maximum range of 4,885nm, it’s only second to the -400ERF (4,980). However, when compared to the 747-200F and -400BCF, the real clear water is evident. Carrying roughly the exact same payload, at dramatically reduced operating costs, the 777F out-flies the -200F by a considerable margin and the -400BCF by between 450nm to 795nmm thus avoiding fuel stops and allowing carriers, like Fedex, to offer even quicker express flights.

  2. Further, what’s clear with the relatively good sales success of the ultra-large 747-8F as well as the runaway sales success of the 777F is that the air-freight markets are more favourable to larger capacity freighter airplanes. This can be seen also in Boeing’s World Air Cargo Forecast where the larger the payload capability, the greater the demand for newer airplanes over converted airplanes due to efficiencies and capabilities inherent in larger freights.

    According to Boeing, the larger freighter airplanes (payload greater than 80,000kg)m such as 777F and 747Fs, the demand for new airplanes is 690 whilst 310 will be converted, whereas the market for medium wide-body freighters, such as 767F and A330F, is estimated to need 440 converted freighters and only 280 new built, whilst the market for freighters less than 45,000kg is only conversion, such as 757 and 737.

    The sales success, of lack of, for the A330F shows the relatively small need for new airplanes in that segment, whilst the 777F, in the larger segment, is clearly in greater demand. What is clear is that if Airbus launches A330P2F, the business case for the A330F will be undermined significantly, especially as the market already hasn’t accepted the A330F very well. And, despite the passenger 767 fairing not so well against A330, the 767 Freighter is a different story…it’s operational flexibility and payload-efficiencies are better than A330F…a fact.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.