Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter
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Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter

747 Dreamlifter
Boeing, N780BA, B747-409(LCF) Dreamlifter - PAE (19833251496).jpg
Boeing 747-400 LCF Dreamlifter
Role Outsize cargo freight aircraft
Manufacturer Boeing Commercial Airplanes
Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation
First flight September 9, 2006
Introduction 2007
Status In service
Primary user Atlas Air
4 (all conversions)
$1 billion[1]
Boeing 747-400

The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter, also known as the Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF), is a wide-body cargo aircraft modified extensively from the Boeing 747-400 airliner. With a volume of 65,000 cubic feet (1,840 m³)[2] the Dreamlifter can hold three times that of a 747-400F freighter.[3] It is used primarily for transporting Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft components to Boeing's assembly plants from suppliers around the world.


Boeing Commercial Airplanes announced on October 13, 2003 that, due to the length of time required by land and marine shipping, air transport will be the primary method of transporting parts for the assembly of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner (then known as the 7E7).[4] Boeing 787 parts were deemed too large for standard marine shipping containers as well as the Boeing 747-400F, Antonov An-124 and Antonov An-225.[5] Initially, three used passenger 747-400 aircraft were to be converted into an outsize configuration in order to ferry sub-assemblies from Japan and Italy to North Charleston, South Carolina, and then to Washington state for final assembly, but a fourth was subsequently added to the program.[6] The Large Cargo Freighter has a bulging fuselage similar in concept to the Super Guppy and Airbus A300-600ST Beluga outsize cargo aircraft, which are also used for transporting wings and fuselage sections.

Design phase

The first conversion, N747BC in 2006

The LCF conversion was partially designed by Boeing's Moscow bureau and Boeing Rocketdyne with the swing tail designed in partnership with Gamesa Aeronáutica of Spain.[7] The cargo portion of the aircraft is unpressurized. [8] Modifications were carried out in Taiwan by Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation,[3] a joint venture of Evergreen Group's EVA Air and General Electric.[9] Boeing reacquired the four 747-400s; one former Air China aircraft,[10] two former China Airlines aircraft,[11][12] and one former Malaysia Airlines aircraft.[13]

The first 747 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF) was rolled out of the hangar at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport on August 17, 2006.[9] It successfully completed its first test flight on September 9, 2006 from this airport.[14]

The 787 Dreamliner parts are placed in the aircraft by the DBL-100 cargo loader, the world's longest cargo loader.[15][16][17] In June 2006, the first DBL-100 cargo loader was completed.[18]

The 747 LCF's unusual appearance has drawn comparisons to the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and the Hughes H-4 Hercules ("Spruce Goose").[6] Due to its ungainly form — exacerbated in that the first airplane remained unpainted for some time, due to the need for immediate testing — Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Scott Carson jokingly apologized to 747 designer Joe Sutter that he was "sorry for what we did to your plane."[6]

Operational history

Boeing 747 LCF with its swing-tail open
Two Dreamlifters at the Boeing Everett Factory in Paine Field

Flight testing

On September 16, 2006, N747BC arrived at Boeing Field, Seattle to complete the flight test program.[3] Swing-tail testing was done at the Boeing factory in Everett.[19] The second airplane, N780BA, made its inaugural test flight on February 16, 2007. The third began modification in 2007.[20] The first two LCFs entered service in 2007 to support the final assembly of the first 787s.[20]

Delivery times for the 787's wings, built in Japan, will be reduced from around 30 days to just over eight hours with the 747 LCF.[21]Evergreen International Airlines (unrelated to EVA Air or EGAT), a U.S. air freight operator based in McMinnville, Oregon, operated the LCF fleet[6][22] until August 2010. Then Atlas Air, which was awarded a nine-year contract for the operation of the aircraft in March 2010, took over LCF operation.[23] Evergreen had achieved a 93% on flight schedule performance with the LCF,[24] and sued Boeing for $175 million,[25][26] which the court mostly dismissed.[27][28]

Into service

In December 2006, Boeing announced the 747 LCF would be named Dreamlifter, a reference to the 787's name, Dreamliner. It unveiled a standard livery for the aircraft that included a logo reminiscent of the 787's Dreamliner logo.[29]

Certification was initially planned for early 2007, but was pushed back to June 2007. The aircraft's winglets were removed to resolve excess vibration and other handling characteristics prior to final certification. In the meantime, as part of the flight test program, LCF delivered major sections of the 787 from partner sites around the world to the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington for final assembly.[30] The 747 LCF was granted FAA type certification on June 2, 2007. From its first flight in 2006 until certification in 2007, the Dreamlifter completed 437 hours of flight testing along with 639 hours of ground testing.[31]

Of the four 747 Dreamlifters Boeing acquired,[32] three were complete and operational by June 2008,[33] and the fourth became operational in February 2010.[34][35]

On July 1, 2020, a Dreamlifter arrived at Salt Lake City International Airport, carrying 500,000 face masks to be used by Utah school children and teachers as part of the state's response to the Coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. The flight was a joint effort between Boeing, Atlas Air, H.M. Cole, Cotopaxi, Flexport, UPS and the state of Utah.[36]


On November 20, 2013, Dreamlifter N780BA operated by Atlas Air inadvertently landed at Colonel James Jabara Airport, a small general aviation airport in Wichita, Kansas. Its intended destination was McConnell Air Force Base, 9 miles (14 km) past Jabara Airport on the same heading. The aircraft was able to successfully take off again from Jabara's 6101 ft (1.86 km) runway the following day and landed at McConnell without incident.[37][38]


Dreamlifter's perspective tables

The 747 LCF main cargo compartment has a volume of 65,000 cubic feet (1,840 cubic meters) and the maximum payload capacity is 250,000 lb (113,400 kg).[39]

Model 747 Dreamlifter 747-400
Cockpit crew Two
Length 235 ft 2 in (71.68 m) 231 ft 10 in (70.6 m)
Wingspan 211 ft 5 in (64.4 m)
Height 70 ft 8 in (21.54 m) 63 ft 8 in (19.4 m)
Fuselage width 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m) 21 ft 4 in (6.50 m)
Spec Operating Empty Weight 180,530 kg (398,000 lb) 179,015 kg (394,661 lb)
Maximum take-off weight 364,235 kg (803,001 lb) 396,890 kg (874,990 lb)
Cruising speed Mach 0.82 (474 kn, 878 km/h) Mach 0.85 (491 kn, 910 km/h)
Takeoff run at MTOW 9,199 ft (2,804 m) 9,902 ft (3,018 m)
Range fully loaded 4,200 nmi (4,800 mi; 7,800 km) 7,260 nmi (8,350 mi; 13,450 km)
Max. fuel capacity 52,609 U.S. gal (199,150 l) 57,285 U.S. gal (216,850 l)
Engine models (x 4) PW 4062 PW 4062
GE CF6-80C2B5F
RR RB211-524G/H
Engine thrust (per engine) 63,300 lbf (282 kN) PW 63,300 lbf (282 kN)
GE 62,100 lbf (276 kN)
RR 59,500 lbf (265 kN)

Sources: Boeing 747-400 specifications,[40]Boeing 747 Airport Report,[41] 747 LCF fact sheet[21]

See also

Related development

  • Boeing 747-400 – Wide-body airliner, improved production series of the 747

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  1. ^ Jon Ostrower (April 2018). "Boeing's Dreamlifter may get to haul 767 sections, too".
  2. ^ Boeing Dreamlifter leads unique aircraft at AirVenture Archived April 14, 2013, at" Experimental Aircraft Association. Retrieved: September 30, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Hanson, Mary et al. "Boeing Selects EGAT for 747 Large Cargo Freighter Modifications." Boeing Commercial Airplanes, February 18, 2005. Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
  4. ^ Leach, Yvonne (October 13, 2003). "Boeing 7E7 Will Use Air Transport for Component Delivery" (Press release). Boeing. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Wagner, Mark; Norris, Guy (2009), Boeing 787 Dreamliner, MBI, pp. 101-14.
  6. ^ a b c d Lunsford, J. Lynn. "Ugly in the Air: Boeing's New Plane Gets Gawks, Stares." The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2007.
  7. ^ Hanson, Mary (February 22, 2005). "Boeing's 747 Large Cargo Freighter Development on Plan" (Press release). Seattle: Boeing. Archived from the original on May 27, 2006. Retrieved 2007.
  8. ^ Retrieved 2017-06-30.
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  11. ^ "Boeing N780BA (Ex B-162 B-18272)." Airfleets.Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
  12. ^ "Boeing N249BA (Ex B-161 B-18271)." Airfleets. Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
  13. ^ Boeing N718BA (Ex 9M-MPA)." Airfleets. Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
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  15. ^ "Explore Records: Longest cargo loader". Guinness World Records. 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  16. ^ Glenday, Craig (2009). Guinness World Records 2009. Bantam. p. 268. ISBN 0-553-59256-4.
  17. ^ Reinhardt, Karen (July 16, 2014). "Darn big loader". OEM Off-Highway. Retrieved 2015.
  18. ^ Hanson, Mary. "First Cargo Loader Completed for Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter." Boeing Commercial Airplanes, June 12, 2006. Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
  19. ^ "Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter Successfully Tests Swing Tail." Boeing Commercial Airplanes, October 23, 2006. Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
  20. ^ a b Hanson, Mary. "Large Cargo Freighter Taking Shape." Boeing Commercial Airplanes, April 17, 2006. Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
  21. ^ a b "Boeing 747 Dreamlifter Fact Sheet". Archive Boeing Commercial Airplanes, April 23, 2007. Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
  22. ^ Hanson, Mary et al. "Evergreen International Airlines, Inc. to Operate Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighters." Boeing Commercial Airplanes, December 15, 2007. Retrieved: March 17, 2008.
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  27. ^ "Judge: Evergreen trade secret claims against Boeing stand". Daily Herald (Arlington Heights), June 14, 2010. Retrieved: September 30, 2012.
  28. ^ Coughenour, John C. "Case 2:10-cv-00568-JCC Document 22" page 22. United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, June 9, 2010. Retrieved: September 30, 2012.
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  33. ^ Tinseth, Randy. "Three of four." Boeing Blog Randy's Journal, June 12, 2008.
  34. ^ Mecham, Michael. "Boeing Puts Last Dreamlifter In Service." Aviation Week, February 16, 2010.
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  36. ^ Klopfenstein, Jacob (July 1, 2020). "499 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as 500K masks delivered to Utah students, teachers". Archived from the original on July 2, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
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  38. ^ LeBeau, Phil (November 21, 2013). "'Wrong airport' Dreamlifter successfully takes off".
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  40. ^ 747-400 "Technical Information." Boeing. Retrieved: September 14, 2011.
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  • Norris, Guy and Mark Wagner. Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Zenith Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7603-2815-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links

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