Inside the Boeing 737 That Will Fly Your Amazon Packages Around the US

Jun 19, 2019

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We typically focus our air show efforts on bringing you tours of the latest and greatest airliners and private jets, but occasionally we like to throw an exciting cargo craft into the mix. Amazon’s Prime Air 737 certainly fits the bill.

Following more than 14 years of flying passengers around India for now-defunct Jet Airways, N855DM, a Boeing 737-800, has entered the next stage of its life as an Amazon Prime Air freighter.

The aircraft just completed a retrofit process in China, where the passenger cabin was removed and replaced with full-fuselage cargo storage, along with a huge fold-up loading door.

Following its stint at the 2019 Paris Air Show, N855DM will fly to the United States, where it will begin operating cargo flights on behalf of Amazon’s Prime Air. This will be the fourth converted 737 to enter Amazon’s fleet.

Atlas Air subsidiary Southern Air is expected to fly Amazon’s leased fleet of Boeing 737-800s. Overall, the retail giant plans to have 15 of these repurposed planes flying soon.

A Boeing representative at the show quoted a list price of $5 million to convert a 737 from passenger use to freight. That’s in addition to the cost of acquiring an aircraft, which is typically up to the new owner to sort out.

The retrofit process takes about 90 days from start to finish, though aircraft acquisition and document preparation are handled before the plane is handed over to Boeing.

The 737 conversion program is new to Boeing — the company started delivering retrofitted aircraft just a year ago, with 12 narrow-body planes having completed the process so far. Seventeen are expected to be delivered in 2019, 21 in 2020 and even more as airlines continue to retire aging 737s in the years to come.

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