CARGOLUX AIRLINES TO PUT INTO SERVICE BOEING'S NEW 747-400 FREIGHTER

CARGOLUX AIRLINES TO PUT INTO SERVICE BOEING'S NEW 747-400 FREIGHTER

Boeing Co. will see its new 747-400 freighter put into service today against the backdrop of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting attended by the leaders of the Pacific Rim's most powerful countries.

President Clinton, who spoke in front of a 747-400 freighter during his visit to a Boeing factory earlier this year, will attend the trade conference later in the week.The Federal Aviation Administration certified the freighter for commercial operation last month. European aviation authorities are expected to grant similar certification today.

Air France, the first airline to order a 747-400 freighter, took delivery of one last Wednesday but expects to store the plane until 1996, Boeing officials said.

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Tacoma, used the Air France freighter last week to show Defense Department officials how the Air Force could use the Boeing freighter in place of the troubled McDonnell-Douglas C-17.

The congressman said he conducted a briefing to support his request for funding for military purchase of 747-400 freighters.

Sigmar Sigurdsson, North American director for Cargolux Airlines International SA of Luxembourg, said the all-cargo airline will give top economic and civil transport leaders from 15 countries a chance to see the freighter. Cargolux took delivery of the plane.

"This is going to be a golden opportunity to showcase the new aircraft, particularly to people from Asia," he said in a telephone interview from the airline's U.S. headquarters in Miami.

Cargolux intends to use the new freighter on its longest route, the polar flight between Luxembourg and the West Coast's main freight hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, Mr. Sigurdsson said. Boeing says the plane, with a list price of $140 million, can move 122 tons of cargo nearly 5,000 miles.

Cargolux chose new planes instead of used ones to avoid the extra expenses of larger crews, higher fuel consumption, extra maintenance, noise modifications and required overhauls, he said.

"Yes, there is an element of risk in us taking the freighters now, with a sluggish economy all over the world, but we believe the benefits justify it," he said.

Cargolux is due to take delivery of another 747-400 freighter on Dec. 8. The airline has a third 747-400 freighter ordered for delivery next year and has options on three more as part of a fleet-expansion plan.

"The No. 1 reason for buying the plane was its higher weight capacity," Mr. Sigurdsson said. "The 747-400 freighter also has a slightly higher volume capacity. We can fly it non-stop from Luxembourg to Los Angeles."