Dreamlifter Boeing; Vital Cargo plane in COVID pandemic

Dreamlifter also often named the  Dreamlifter Boeing is a wide body cargo aircraft introduced by Boeing Company in 2007. At 65,000 cubic feet the Dreamlifter Boeing can hold three times the volume of a 747-400F freighter. It is an extensively modified Boeing 747-400 that is used primarily for transporting Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft parts from partner country to Boeing Everett Factory.

Dreamlifter Boeing
Photo: Atlas Air Boeing 747 Dreamlifter at ANC, credit wikipedia

Development Phase of Dreamlifter

On 13 October 2003, Boeing Commercial Airplanes announced that, due to the length of time taken by land and sea shipping, air transport would be the primary method of transporting parts for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner assembly. Boeing 787 parts, as well as the Boeing 747-400F, Antonov An-124 and Antonov An-225 were deemed too large for standard shipping containers. In concept, the Large Cargo Freighter has a bulging fuselage similar to the outsize cargo aircraft Super Guppy and Airbus A300-600ST Beluga, which are both used to accommodate wings and fuselage parts.

Boeing obtained four Air China 747-400s, the other from Malaysia Airlines, and two from China Airlines. B747 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF) was developed in collaboration with Spain’s Gamesa Aeronáutica, partly by Boeing’s Moscow office and Boeing Rocketdyne with the swing tail concept.  Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation, a joint venture of EVA Air and General Electric Company, initiated modifications in Taiwan.  

The first 747 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF) was operated out onto Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hangar on 17 August 2006. On 9 September 2006, the first test flight from that airport was successfully performed. In December 2006 Boeing revealed that the 747 LCF will be renamed dreamlifter cargo plane, a nod to the 787 ‘s name, Dreamliner. It introduced a standard aircraft livery that featured a Dreamliner 787 logo reminiscent of it.

Details of Dreamlifter

As per now Boeing only made 4 Dreamlifter as it is not operated by any commercial airlines. Boeing corporation uses this to transport components of aircraft. The Dreamlifter cargo plane is in no way inexpensive, with an estimated $ 1 billion cost to the project.  However, it maintains some impressive features and specifications that make it an attractive choice for commercial airlines that need a cargo jet. The Boeing Dreamlifter measures more than 235 feet long and 70 feet tall, in terms of dimension. This also has a gross takeoff weight of more than 803,000 pounds, as well as a Mach 0.82 cruise speed with a total range of 7800 km and it contains quad engines of PW4000.

Boeing owns the four Dreamlifter but Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings operates them for Boeing under a nine-year contract signed in March 2010. Atlas receives revenues for the flights, while Boeing assumes responsibility for certain direct costs, including fuel.

On November 20, 2013, Dreamlifter 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, 14 km (9 miles) from Jabara Airport on the same direction. The aircraft was able to successfully depart from Jabara’s 6101 ft (1.86 km) runway the following day and landed without incident at McConnell.

Beluga XL Vs Dreamlifter Boeing

The Dreamlifter is also not the only wide-body cargo aircraft in the industry. Airbus owns a similar wide-body cargo jet bigger than Dreamlifter branded as the “Beluga XL“. It is a large transport aircraft based on the Airbus A330 airliner. Although the Dreamlifter provides cargo space of 65,000 cubic feet, the Beluga XL has an amazing 78,000 cubic feet of cargo space. When the Dreamlifter came out, it was the biggest cargo jet in the world. However, the achievement now belongs to the Beluga XL.

An Airbus Beluga XL with beluga livery throughout its maiden flight. Photo: wikipedia.com

On 9 January 2020, the Beluga XL entered service with Airbus Transport to replace the Airbus Beluga in the transport of overweight parts of aircraft. On 19 July 2018 the Beluga XL made its first flight, and on 13 November 2019 it obtained its type certification. The Beluga XL designed to carry the wings of its Airbus A350 XWB aircraft like Dreamlifter which carried wings of B787.

Antonov AN-225 Mriya Vs Dreamlifter Boeing

Antonov AN-225 Mriya is the largest Cargo plane ever made .It was made during the 1980s by the Antonov Design Bureau of the Ukrainian SSR within the Soviet Union. This is powered by six turbofan engines, and is the heaviest aircraft ever built, although only one aircraft was built to date.

An-225 Mriya at Leipzig Halle Photo: Wikipedia

The Antonov AN-225 was designed and developed by the Soviets as a super heavy transporter to replace the older Myasishchev VM-T. During the cold war NATO forces code named it “Cossack.” Initially it was designed to transport the Energiya carrier-rocket and Buran space plane.

Boeing Dreamlifter is big but not too big as AN-225, as Antonov AN-225 is longer and more spacious than Dreamlifter. Nowadays, it has not been used to transport aircraft parts instead it is used to transport cargo materials.

Comparison between Large Cargo Planes (LCP)

 Airbus Beluga XLDreamlifterAntonov 225
Length63.1 m71.68 m84 m
Height18.9 m21.54 m18 m
Wingspan60.3 m64.4 m88.4 m
Speed737 km/h878 km/h800 km/h
Space78000 cubic feet65000 cubic feet247 tons
Range4300 km7800 km15400 km
EnginesRolls Royce Trent 700 ×2PW 4062 ×4Progress D-18T ×6

Role of Boeing Dramlifter in COVID-19

President Trump first revealed in a March 27, 2020 press conference, that Boeing would donate three of his Dreamlifter aircraft, proudly holding up a photo of the giant aircraft  in his daily briefing with the White House corona virus task force. While the aircraft is huge, Trump incorrectly referred to the B747 Dreamlifter Queen of the Skies as “the world’s largest aircraft,” However the world’s largest wingspan cargo aircraft is the Antonov AN-225 Mriya, a Soviet-era aircraft that is still flying for a Ukrainian freight carrier.

During the Corona pandemic Dreamlifter Boeing is playing a key role. Boeing has stated supplying the Dreamlifter to help transport desperately needed critical medical supplies. The supplies went to front line healthcare workers against the COVID-19 pandemic Boeing aims to help local communities and the courageous healthcare workers working diligently to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the Boeing Dreamlifter additional aircraft transport operations are planned for the future. Boeing is now in frequent proximity with authorities from the U.S. Government with how finest to support those regions with the greatest priority.

Boeing deployed three Dreamlifter aircraft to transport more than 150,000 protective eye goggles and face shields from China to the US.  Because Boeing  partnered with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to deliver the personal protective equipment (PPE) to health care professionals in the MUSC system.

Working in collaboration with Prisma Health, Atlas Air Worldwide and Dis-common Founder Neil Ferrier, at Prisma Health in South Carolina, the Boeing Dreamlifter cargo plane shipped 1.5 million face masks for healthcare professionals from HongKong to US.

dreamlifter cargo plane dreamlifter boeing
Photo: Three Boeing Dreamlifters Deliver PPE to South Carolina supporting COVID-19 rescue operations throughout the state

As per the current situation of COVID pandemic more cargo plane are being operated than passenger planes. In this pandemic lot of cargo plane are transporting different medical materials especially from china. Many airlines are making their passenger planes a cargo plane due to demand of supplies. So there should be more Dreamlifter and other cargo plane flight not only in US also in different country to transport cargo in Africa, South Asia, many poor and under develop country etc. so that countries with no cargo plane can also get access cargo.

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