DHL Eyes New Aircraft Order

Daniel Fowkes
20 Nov 2023
· Aircraft 
· Freight 
A Boeing 777-8 Freighter departing

DHL is reportedly considering a new aircraft order for next-generation freighters from Airbus or Boeing.

Reports come from the reputable Danny Lee of Bloomberg, who broke the story on the eve of the 2023 Dubai Airshow.

Next Generation Freighters Available

As part of the next-generation fleet, DHL has two options from either Airbus or Boeing it could pursue.

These include the A350 Freighter from Airbus and the 777-8F from Boeing, which have been relatively newly announced.

Airbus’ A350F is expected to carry 109 tonnes with the capacity for 30 pallets on the main deck and 12 in the lower hold.

Meanwhile, the range will be at maximum payload 4,700 nautical miles of 8,700 kilometres. Airbus says Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines will power its A350Fs once they begin production.

For Boeing’s newly launched 777-8F, the payload will sit higher at 118.2 tonnes. Thirty-one pallets will be fitted on the main deck, with 13 in the lower hold.

Boeing expects that its 777-8F will come with a slightly lower range than the A350F, with a max range of 4,410 nautical miles of 8,167 kilometres.

Timeframe On Release Of Freighters

Airbus is currently targeting an entry into service date for its new A350 freighter for 2026.

This follows a recent postponement as the first parts of the A350Fs Centre Wing Box produced in France arrived.

While a 2026 EIS is still some years away, Airbus has an advantage thanks to their A350 passenger series already being certified and airborne.

As a result, the plane maker can focus on getting this plane away to customers on time.

Boeing’s 777-8F is expected to enter service one year after the A350F in 2027. However, a lot will hinge on the certification programme for the 777-9.

The American plane maker has yet to secure certification for the passenger series. As a result, the two remaining variants, the 777-8 and 777-8F, remain unproduced.

When the 777-9 enters service, it’ll be deployed at carriers, in most cases over five years later than initially expected.

Bloomberg says that DHL is currently in the preliminary stages of evaluating these two aircraft on offer to them.

Following an evaluation process, DHL’s chief said they would then look to move forward with an order for the next generation of freight aircraft.

An Earlier Commitment This Year

Earlier this year, DHL committed to nine Mammoth Freighter converted 777-200LRs.

Through this commitment, DHL said it expected the first unit to be delivered in 2024, with deliveries to be concluded in 2027.

The expectation is that these 777-200LR converted freighters will help replace the existing Boeing 747s that are aging significantly.

Older Boeing 777s are now becoming the subject of potential conversions to freighters as their life within the industry looks to be extended.

DHL views these planes as perfect moving forward to bridge the gap between old and next-generation freighter technology.

While these 777-200LR converted freighters won’t be around for decades, they can provide a valuable solution for the company.

The DHL Fleet

Across its various subsidiaries, DHL operates 212 in-service aircraft, with eight currently in storage per data.

The most significant fleet type comes from the 767F with 50 in-service. 35 757Fs and 34 A330Fs follow this.

DHL’s total fleet averages 22 years. When measured by average age, some of its oldest types are the 767-200s, 757-200s and A300-600 freighter aircraft.

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