Air Canada is converting three of its Boeing 777-300 passenger aircraft into freighters to help with the massive airlift of supplies required to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The 442 seats have been taken out of the planes, the bulkhead TVs covered and other creature comforts either removed or protected so the aircraft can be packed with masks, gowns and other supplies needed in the battle.”Bringing critical medical and other vital supplies rapidly to Canada and helping distribute them across the country is imperative to combating the COVID-19 crisis. The transformation of the Boeing 777-300ERs, our largest international wide-body aircraft, doubles the capacity of each flight and will enable more goods to move more quickly,” said Tim Strauss, Vice President – Cargo at Air Canada.
The aircraft can now carry almost 90 tons of cargo and since the masks and gowns are such light weight items air cargo is an efficient way of getting them where they’re needed. For instance, the 777s can be stuffed with about 9 million masks. The mods are being done by Avianor at Mirabel and involve restraining systems using cargo nets to secure the loads. The mods have been approved by Transport Canada. The aircraft would otherwise be parked. One has been completed and the other two will be ready in the next week. Meanwhile, other Air Canada planes are flying without passengers but with cargo holds filled with time-sensitive shipments. It’s flown 40 cargo flights since March 22 and plans to fly 20 a week going forward using the three converted aircraft, other 777s and some 787s.