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Mon, Mar 05, 2007

Could The C-17 See Life In The Civilian Market?

Report Says Boeing Receives Letter of Intent From Upstart Cargo Airline

Global Heavylift Holdings, looking to utilize military cargo planes for commercial purposes like carrying heavy and oversize machinery, plans to purchase new or used C-17s from Boeing, reported Bloomberg.

Global Heavylift has approached Boeing with a $10.8 billion letter of intent from Oppenheimer & Co. to fund the purchase, according to Myron Stokes, a Global Heavylift co-founder.

The planes would be used to carry heavy and oversize machinery, including oil rigs, bulldozers and mining equipment, and would be leased, Stokes said. The planes have a list price of $200 million.

"If you're developing new oil and gas, gold or diamonds, these things usually are not very easy to get to,' Stokes said. "C-17s are able to go wherever there's flat earth' for them to land."

Ironically, the announcement came just one day after Chicago-based Boeing reported it would cease production of the C-17 planes in mid-2009 due to a lack of orders. Boeing needs orders for 16 more planes to keep the line open, according to Dave Bowman, the aircraft's program manager.

Bowman said Saturday there has been interest in commercial use of the C-17s, although Boeing spokesman Rick Sanford couldn't immediately confirm the company has gotten a request from Global Heavylift.

"We have been speaking with serious companies that have a strong interest in obtaining derivatives of the C-17 for commercial use," Sanford said Sunday. "That will be moot unless we get the funding from the US government to keep that line open."

Global Heavylift's plans include purchasing 60 used planes from the government, which gives the military an opportunity to update its own inventory, or 30 new planes, Stokes said.

The company has also expressed interest in taking over Boeing's production line if the aircraft manufacturer is forced to cease making the C-17s.

Boeing has 190 US Air Force C-17s under contract and will deliver the 162nd of those next week, Bowman said. While the Defense Department added funding for 10 more planes in December, it didn't request money for new C-17s in the 2008 federal budget, which was released last month.

Global HeavyLift Holdings, LLC (GHH) is a Florida-based air cargo entity founded in 2002, and initially involved in developing the intellectual resources supporting development of infrastructure of an American-controlled heavy-lift operator.

FMI: www.boeing.com

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