No one expected a 787 freighter to be offered until well after the passenger variants had been in production for many years, and the important aspect of the 787 to the cargo community has been that it has plenty of belly capacity for an airplane of its size.
But with the Paris Air Show providing a big stage for the manufacturers to announce not just orders, but also new programs and developments, Boeing unveiled plans for not one, but two new freighter programs: one for the 787, and one for the 777X - the latter coming as something of a surprise, given that the 777X program has not even been formally launched.
In an interview during the Air Show, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president Mike Bair said the company had settled on the 787-9 as the variant to be produced in freighter configuration, although he pointed out that this would not happen soon. Bair said, "At some point in the far distant future the -9 is the freighter platform. It's the longest-range version and because of that it ends up being the highest-density freighter that we could make." He also pointed out that Boeing had designed the 787-9's fuselage so that a cargo door could be installed without disrupting any of the aircraft's systems.
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