American Airlines, faced with the need to ground inefficient Boeing 707 airfreighters, opted in 1981 to expand its 747 freighter fleet, add Hercules “hub planes”, and increase hub trucking operations. The Hercules' ability to carry the 10-foot M-l (8×8 cross section) containers, its lift capacity and short haul economics made the aircraft particularly attractive as the hub airfreighter.
The hub planes feed 747 freighters at New York, Chicago, and San Juan; they also provide freight-er service to Boston, Cleveland, Port au Prince, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The planes are operated under lease arrangements with Southen Air Transport of Miami, Florida and Transamerica Airlines of Oakland California.
American's revenue and cost projections for hub plane operations are being met and the Hercules have proven the best available alernative to the grounded 707 freighters. The hub plane operation is a concept that merits consideration for expan-sion when the opportunities present themselves.