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747 Freighter Air Charter to Hawaii

When it comes to providing air cargo capabilities, there is no aircraft in the world that compares with the Boeing 747 series of freighters. All three 747-400F, 747-400ERF and 747-8F freighter models in service today, are unmatched in carrying capacity, cargo handling, global reach, speed and versatility.


An aviation icon born in 1968, the 747 is instantly recognizable by its large upper deck “hump”, four engines and six-story high vertical stabilizer. While the 747-400F is just one of the many types of aircraft utilized by AirFreight.com to move your time-sensitive freight where you need it most, it is undoubtedly one of the biggest. Today, approximately 300 747 freighters in service carry nearly half of all global air cargo, and despite ending production in 2023, will continue flying freight for the next 40 to 50 years before being retired. Why so long? Let’s look at the capabilities that make the “Queen of the Skies” true aviation royalty and why it will be hauling air freight for many years to come.




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The 747-8 Freighter was designed with a 975,000 pound maximum take-off weight with a payload capability of 140 tons and a range of 4,390 nautical miles. Four extra pallet spaces were created on the main deck, with either two extra containers and two extra pallets, or three extra pallets, on the lower deck. The 747-8F has a 16 percent lower ton-per-mile operating cost than the 747-400F and offers a slightly increased range.

Powered cargo handling

One of the key capabilities of the 747-400F is its exceptional powered cargo handling system. Power-drive units, which are motorized wheels built into the cargo deck, efficiently move containers called unit load devices (ULDs) into and out of the airplane. This powered cargo handling system enables just two people using a control panel and joysticks to load 121 tons of containerized or palletized cargo in only 30 minutes. Floor locks then hold the ULDs and pallets to the floor to ensure that cargo does not shift in flight. A loaded ULD can weigh thousands of pounds and that much weight shifting during takeoff, landing, or in turbulence can be catastrophic. Load crews make sure the floor locks are securely engaged on all ULDs prior to the airplane’s departure.


From factory to flight line to final destination

Although the 747-400F’s capabilities are exceptional, unless you are shipping large volumes of freight, you might be thinking, “When would I ever need a plane that big?” A recent AirFreight.com customer found that out when faced with a critical equipment failure at a green power storage facility in Hawaii. This specific facility houses several banks of large storage batteries that are charged by solar and wind power when those sources are generating power. Those batteries then feed electricity back into the power grid when solar and wind are not available, keeping the lights on in the communities it serves. Unfortunately, the battery farm blew a major transformer and two new parts were needed in order to get the facility back online. The parts manufacturer was located more than 4,000 miles away in the north central U.S. This is where the speed and capabilities of an exclusive air charter from AirFreight.com – and the Boeing 747-400F – demonstrated their critical value in getting the job done.


Experienced expeditors

The customer contacted AirFreight.com, where they worked with one experienced expeditor through the entire process and who provided them with multiple shipping options. Due to the urgency of getting the power facility back online and the extreme shipping range, an exclusive air charter was necessary. The only aircraft with the ability to make a direct, non-stop flight, and had a cargo door large enough to fit the new equipment was a Boeing 747-400F freighter. AirFreight.com not only arranged for the freighter aircraft, but also had a dedicated truck at the factory ready to receive the equipment as soon as it was finished being built and crated for shipment. The truck immediately headed to the airport, where the equipment was loaded onto an exclusively chartered 747-400F as the only pieces of equipment aboard. The rest of the massive freighter was entirely empty. After a nearly nine-hour flight, the freighter landed in Honolulu, where another dedicated truck arranged by AirFreight.com, sat waiting on the flight line. After transferring the equipment from the 747-400F to the truck, it departed for the jobsite where it was rapidly unloaded and installed at the green power storage facility, bringing it back online and able to serve the surrounding communities that depended on it.

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