Amazon reveals new B737 freighter aircraft

Amazon Air B737-800F

Amazon Air is in the process of adding a new freighter aircraft to its fleet but where the aircraft will operate has yet to be confirmed.

Dave Clark, senior vice president of operations at the tight lipped e-commerce giant, earlier this week tweeted an image (see above) of a B737-800 converted freighter, following on from an aviation photographer posting a similar image of the plane.

The image grabbed people’s attention for a couple of reasons – firstly the new blue livery and secondly the fact that it is a B737 rather than a B767, the aircraft which makes up Amazon’s existing fleet.

Other details that are known about the aircraft are that it is owned by GECAS, it is an ex-China Southern aircraft, its registration number is N851DM and it was converted by Boeing authorised STAECO at its facility at Jinan Yaoqiang International Airport.

The B737-800 has a lower capacity (23.9 tonnes) compared with the B767 (around 58 tonnes) and this has led to some speculation that the aircraft could be used in services in Europe.

However, the aircraft is currently registered in the US through trustee service provider the Bank of Utah. The trustee system allows foreign owners to register their aircraft in the US.

This appears to suggest that the aircraft will be operated in the US, although its registration could simply be changed to another country in the future.

Another question is which company will operate the aircraft? Assuming for now it is to be used in the US, the most likely candidates are ATSG and Atlas Air, whose subsidiaries currently operate Amazon’s fleet of 40 aircraft.

Both have experience with the B737F platform – Atlas through its Southern Air subsidiary and ATSG through is 25% shareholding in West Atlantic, which operates four GECAS-owned B737-800BCFs for FedEx’s European network.

ATSG also has the potential to operate B737 aircraft for Amazon included in its recently upgraded deal with the e-commerce firm.

Late last year, Amazon signed-up for an extra 10 B767 aircraft from ATSG to be put into operation by 2020, but the deal also gives Amazon the option to lease a further 17 cargo aircraft by January 2026, which may include up to five B737-800s and any combination of B767-200, B767-300s and Airbus A321-200 aircraft.



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