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30 Sep 2004
Boeing Increases TAECO's 747-400 Special Freighter Work

Boeing [NYSE: BA] is increasing Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd's (TAECO) participation in the 747-400 Special Freighter programme by contracting with the Xiamen, China-based company to modify 20 additional airplanes.

Earlier this year Boeing contracted with TAECO for the first 13 airplanes in this programme, through which 747-400 passenger and combi airplanes are converted into freighters.

"TAECO's experience in modifying 747s, and its willingness to work with us to offer airlines a high-quality, low-risk conversion, is why we're expanding its work," said Lou Mancini, vice president and general manager, Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. "One example of TAECO's customer commitment is its decision to expand its facility to meet demand for the 747-400 Special Freighter and its growing modification business."

Boeing offers airlines the option of having their conversion kit installed by a Boeing-approved modification centre, in which case Boeing certifies the parts, engineering and the conversion work itself. Airlines also have the option of selecting a modification centre of their choosing to install their kit.

"This exciting programme is a critical element in the future airfreight transport world," said PK Chan, chairman and CEO of TAECO. "We're looking forward to further strengthening our close working relationship with Boeing, and are proud to be one of the key supplier partners who play a critical role in developing the 747-400 Special Freighter."

"TAECO values the opportunity to participate in this programme and is committed with all its resources to contribute to its success" added Chan. "TAECO appreciates the confidence of Boeing's top management in our capability to perform such an important role in this programme."

The 747-400 Special Freighter, launched in January this year, has attracted 15 announced firm orders and 15 options from three customers.

For the conversion, a 747-400 passenger airplane receives a side cargo door and layout identical to a 747-400 production freighter. The Special Freighter includes 30 pallet positions on the main deck and comparable volume. The upper deck is capable of seating up to 19 people, an option found on no other converted freighter.

The 747 Freighter family carries nearly half of the world's freighter capacity. The production freighter is distinguished by a nose door that provides greater ease and efficiency in loading, along with increased revenue potential by allowing for unusual and outsized items to be carried.

Boeing, in its World Air Cargo Forecast 2004/2005, estimates that air cargo traffic will increase by 6.2 percent annually over the next 20 years. Nearly 3,000 freighters will be added to the world fleet during this period, and about 75 percent, or 2,226 of the additions, will be airplanes converted from existing passenger and combi configurations.

TAECO operates at Xiamen's airport where it provides heavy maintenance work and operates a passenger to freighter conversion centre. It also offers line maintenance services at various locations in Mainland China.