Here are two transport companies that could dominate the massive new cargo plane market

In July 2018, a Boeing C-17 cargo plane touched down in Venezuela’s capital Caracas, as part of a joint venture between the People’s Socialist Party (PSUV) and Boeing. Months earlier, in July 2017, a different batch of giant jets had touched down in the city of Maracaibo, filled with aid for victims of a storm and clashes with the police. And over two months, the super military planes — which can carry 18 tons of supplies — had helped move at least 30 tons of humanitarian aid to areas affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

These jets will not just transport goods to remote and disaster areas. Their wider potential, says Nicolas Montes, executive director of the consultancy at The Aerospace & Defense Group in London, is to be game-changers for an entire industry.

“Each of these aircraft can basically be stacked into eight or nine cargo aircraft, which will be capable of flying 20 or more cargo missions a day,” he explains, using Airbus, one of the two commercial aircraft makers working on these new, larger cargo planes. Airbus has teamed up with Brazil’s Embraer on one such venture, and US firms Boeing and Textron — which owns Cessna Aircraft — are reportedly looking at a partnership. One option has been a conceptual design from Boeing.

The process, if and when it comes to fruition, would see planes in Paris, Rome and perhaps even London “gathered in a hangar,” reports The Financial Times. Then each aircraft would be loaded on to a carrier, which would connect to a flight mid-sea or airport, while crews onshore handled the rest of the job.

In the U.S., nothing has been definitive or finalized. Airbus and Embraer are not the only two at the table. Boeing is meanwhile mulling its own design for an even bigger plane. And Textron may have designs for a new, design which could open up a market of 1,500 planes a year.

“[These planes] could see a market of over $3 billion a year,” Montes says. “You can imagine, carrying 18 tons of supplies can feed at least 5,000 people. This is a game-changer.”


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