In its past life, Boeing’s MSN 32663 was in the service of Jet Airways for over 14 years as VT-JGE. Then, in December 2018, it was turned over back to GECAS, the owner of the aircraft, voluntarily, much before the airline had to give up on their planes. From there, the aircraft made its way to Shanghai, where, over the past few months, it was refitted as a freighter aircraft.
Last week, at the Paris Airshow 2019, it made its first public appearance, as Prime Air, the cargo airline that is operated for Amazon to ensure your packages can reach wherever, at the committed time.
I thought it would be a cool idea to get on board and check out what is the whole deal about. The aircraft had its passenger configuration, including all the seats ripped apart and converted for cargo operations at the cost of US$ 5 Million. The aircraft has a folding cargo door to push in and remove cargo pallets for transport.
In the front of the plane, there are the only 4 passenger seats that can be used to move four people around.
Boeing also said four people could be brought in the cockpit, including the two pilots for the plane.
And right at the back is the container unit where the pallets are stored. Like you can see on the wall, there is a map of how to organise the pallets in the container section.
I asked what was being done with the belly of the plane, where the transport of cargo used to be done earlier. The Boeing representative told me it would still be used for Cargo, except there would be no containers going in there but just small packages. In total, 23 tonnes of cargo can be moved by this plane in one go.
Boeing said the transformation of the plane from a Passenger Jet to a Boeing Converted Freighter takes 90 days. These conversions are usually going to be performed on jets which are about 15-20 year old, and could give another 20 years of usable life out of these aircraft.
Amazon operates a whole fleet of aircraft under Prime Air, and this one is due to join the fleet anytime soon, now that the Paris Airshow is over.
It was quite fascinating to get inside this aircraft to see the scale of Amazon’s ambition with the Prime Air programme.