Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corp (EGAT, 長榮航太) yesterday unveiled its first converted cargo jet for Boeing Co, marking a breakthrough in the nation's aviation industry.
"It was a tough task for us as the jet modifications involved a large number of components and there was a pressing timeline for completion," EGAT chairman David Wang (王宜恭) said in a rollout ceremony at CKS Airport in Taoyuan.
In February last year, EGAT signed a deal with the US aerospace giant to convert three Boeing 747-400 passenger jets into 747-400 Large Cargo Freighters, marking the first such contract for the local aviation industry.
Modifications for the second jet will be completed by the end of the year, while the third will be finished next year, according to Wang.
The converted cargo jets are said to be capable of carrying more cargo than other freighters, with a volume of 1,840m3, three times the size of the original Boeing 747-400 jet.
The modified jets also boast a unique "swing tail" design that allows fast, easy loading and unloading of the huge cargoes.
The aircraft will allow cargo delivery times to be drastically reduced, the companies said.
Over the next four years, the new cargo freighters will be used to transport to transport giant-sized Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" assemblages from around the world to the assembly site of the new aircraft in Everett, Washington.
Depending on the model, the mid-size Boeing 787s are able to carry between 210 to 330 passengers on routes of 5,000km to 16,000km.
The first Dreamliner -- which is competing with the delayed Airbus A350 -- will come out next year, with delivery and service expected in 2008.
Since the 787 program was launched in April 2004, 32 airlines have placed 424 orders with a value of US$59 billion, according to Boeing.
"This is the most successful and largest launch of a new commercial aircraft [in Boeing's history]," said Scott Strode, Boeing 787 vice president of airplane development and production.
He said the fleet of three cargo jets from EGAT will be able to meet supplies for the 787 during over the next few years, and the company will evaluate more possible orders depending on future demand for 787.