On April 18th, Boeing completed its first COVID-19 transport mission, using a 737-700 aircraft from its corporate fleet to bring personal protective equipment (PPE) from China to the United States. Since then, the aerospace giant has continued to employ tactics at a much larger scale.
The first mission successfully transported 540,000 medical-grade face masks to healthcare professionals battling COVID-19 in New Hampshire. Boeing partnered with FIRST® Robotics and DEKA Research and Development Corporation Founder Dean Kamen to secure the face masks from manufacturers in China and turned to Boeing to facilitate their transport.
Since then, Boeing has continued to support local communities and the heroic healthcare professionals working tirelessly to stop the spread of COVID-19. These efforts have included close coordination with U.S. government officials on how to best assist areas with the greatest need, and with companies including Prisma Health, Atlas Air Worldwide and Discommon.
Founder of the aforementioned companies, Neil Ferrier, aided in the latest mission in which Boeing transported 1.5 million medical-grade face masks bound for healthcare professionals at Prisma Health in South Carolina. This mission was made possible by Boeing’s 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF), a wide-body cargo aircraft also known as the Dreamlifter. At 65,000 cubic feet (1,840 m³) the Dreamlifter can hold three times the volume of a 747-400F freighter. The aircraft flew from Hong Kong to Greenville, South Carolina, with the face masks in its lower lobe. Following the delivery, the Dreamlifter returned to its home base in North Charleston, South Carolina, and has since resumed delivery of 787 Dreamliner parts in support of the global aerospace supply chain.
Boeing will continue to plan additional airlift transport missions with the Dreamlifter and has plans to add other aircraft, such as its ecoDemonstrator, an experimental 777-200, and a Boeing Business Jet, to its COVID-19 support fleet.
Why it’s important: Amidst the company’s own COVID-19 operational challenges, Boeing has stepped up to provide medical support to communities in need. The combined efforts of companies across the globe is integral to global health and financial prosperity in these times. This demonstrates the meaningful impact that aerospace companies of any size and maturity can have during these times. Aerial mobility OEMs and operators have an opportunity to step up in a similar way and establish a logistics service with potential to extend even beyond COVID-19 support.