Boeing's new partnership with Costa Rica

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's made in Costa Rica!

The next plane you see flying overhead might just have ties to Costa Rica.

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing announced this week that it has partnered with Coopesa, a Tico company, to open two conversion lines for 737-800 airplanes right here in Costa Rica.

Boeing and Coopesa will convert passenger airplanes to freighters to meet growing demand that has been driven by e-commerce. The first of these conversion lines is expected to open in Alajuela by early 2022, with the second anticipated later that year. 

“COOPESA has demonstrated the technical expertise and commitment to quality and execution necessary to help us meet the growing customer demand for the 737-800BCF, including in the Americas,” said Jens Steinhagen, director of Boeing freighter conversions.

Currently, Boeing converts 737-800 passenger airplanes to freighters in three Asia locations: Shanghai, China; Guangzhou, China; and Jinan, China.

This means the Costa Rica-based conversion center will be Boeing’s hub for that airliner in this region. Over the next 20 years, it anticipates more than 300 passenger-to-freighter transitions will be needed in North and Latin America.

Boeing calls the 737-800BCF the “world’s most reliable and efficient standard-body freighter.” It can carry 22.7 metric tons with a maximum range of 2,025 nautical miles.

Costa Rica’s ‘other’ industries

Most people rightfully recognize tourism and agriculture as two of Costa Rica’s biggest drivers. But the economy is more diverse than just that.

In fact, Costa Rica’s biggest export sector is medical instruments, which comprised 34% of the $11.7 billion in goods exported in 2020. You can read more about that here.

Several tech companies also have operations in Costa Rica, including Intel (research and development), Amazon (web services, etc.) and Uber (service center).

And Costa Rica’s shipping ports are often used to export large quantities of illicit cocaine. Lots and lots of cocaine.

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