DALLAS – Kansas Modification Center (KMC), in partnership with Dr. Peters Group, Wichita State University’s (WSU) National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) and NIAR WERX, announced the inaugural order from Backbone Freighter Leasing for the 777-300ERCF passenger to freighter (P2F) conversion program at Aviation Week’s MRO Americas 2022 event.

Backbone Freighter Leasing announced that it will place three firm orders for converted freighters with deliveries in 2024 and 2025, and options for seven additional conversions in 2025, 2026 and 2027.  The order and options total in value over $300 million.

NIAR WERX in Wichita, Kan. is providing the engineering, certification and modifications for the aircraft conversion program.  Part of the work is being done at NIAR WERX’s MRO.

Scheduled for FAA Supplemental Type Certificate approval in the second quarter of 2024 and subsequent validation and certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency, the 777-300ERCF P2F will leverage the highly successful 777-300ER passenger airplane and support the growing demand for air cargo capacity.

With its large main deck cargo door, newly integrated aluminum floor beams, cargo handling system options, perishable goods carriage capability and 25 percent more volume than the 777F, the 777-300ERCF will provide versatility for both higher density and high-volume cargo operators.

The anticipated low empty weight for the 777-300ERCF P2F conversion will enable a unique set of capabilities for converted freighter aircraft. The KMC 777-300ERCF P2F will be the aircraft of choice for long-range payload needs. With the lowest fuel consumption amongst its peers, the aircraft is environmentally friendly compared to other alternatives.

“I am privileged to announce this initial order from Backbone,” said Jim Gibbs, president and CEO of KMC. “We are excited they have chosen to invest with our team.”

This announcement comes on the heels of additional groundbreaking news from KMC and WSU-NIAR WERX. Last week, the State of Kansas committed $35 million in funding over the next five years to WSU for use in its NIAR WERX MRO program.  This demonstrates the State of Kansas’ commitment to continued economic growth in Kansas through manufacturing and MRO activities.

Yesterday, KMC also announced production of the first replacement parts in partnership with Dynamic NC, located in Rose Hill, Kan., for the initial 777-300 ERCF conversion already underway.  On Monday, NIAR WERX also successfully commenced flight tests for the aircraft that is currently being converted.

With one initial modification underway and today’s announcement by Backbone Freighter Leasing regarding three new firm orders, the P2F conversion program initially announced by KMC and WSU is successfully advancing per schedule.