Aside from visible differences, what are some differences in the usage and design of the 767-400ER as compared to the 777-200/200ER (or 300/ER if you feel makes more sense)?

What was the value proposition of the 767-400ER when compared to the 777, as both came into service within a decade of each other?


4 Answers 4


The -400ER was a strategic response to the Airbus A330-200

... but it didn't have the range and ultimately didn't sell well.

If you can get the customers who want to replace their DC-10s and L-1011s with the more comparable A330-200 (which entered service in 1998) in talks about the 767-400ER, you have a shot at selling the bigger 777 as well. But if you only have the bigger 777, the negotiations will be harder.

Flight noted the following in 1999:

Anyone seeing the 61.4m (201ft)-long aircraft emerge for the first time could be forgiven for experiencing a certain deja vu. Not only is the -400ER a mere 3.6m shorter than the 777-200, but almost exactly 10 years ago, a similar "767-X" design was being proposed to airlines. This soon evolved into the all-new 777, and for a while the stretched 767 plans were shelved.


Delta's TriStar replacement competition therefore provided the expected battleground for yet another Airbus versus Boeing fight. Airbus pushed hard to get Delta aboard the A330-200 as part of a wider fleet deal involving widebodies and narrowbodies. Boeing was equally desperate for victory, as much to keep Airbus from gaining a foothold in Delta territory as to launch the strategically vital 767-400X.

I've also put together this derivative work showing the similar length noted by Flight above.

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Isn't length one of "the visible differences" the OP excluded?) $\endgroup$
    – Pilothead
    May 23, 2018 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Pilothead - For clarification, I didn't tackle the differences because I believe the true answer for 'what the -400ER is all about' lies with the A330-200. The length is illustrating the similarity noted by Flight. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    May 23, 2018 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ You know I'm kidding you, as it's so easy. The a330 isn't in the OP's question either. $\endgroup$
    – Pilothead
    May 24, 2018 at 0:02

It's pretty clear that operators of the 767-400ER knew what they were doing when they selected that aircraft. Only United and Delta bought them and they are still in service even as older 767 models are being retired. The 764s have proven to be a good value proposition even though it did not sell well and is a unique bridge between smaller and older 767 models and the much larger 777s, especially when you examine passenger cost and revenue per mile.

They have been particularly useful for transatlantic service, and both United and Delta plan to fly them for at least ten more years -- and they've both decided to spend millions on them to upgrade their interiors to maintain parity with newer Airbus and Boeing products. It appears that both airlines are planning to keep them going until Boeing introduces the NMA (797). I hope that's what happens because there's no question that passengers greatly prefer two aisle aircraft over single aisle competition such as the A321LR or the A321XLR for seven to ten hour flights.

I still prefer the 777 over the 767-400 but can see why United and Delta continue to fly 764 over single aisle aircraft or a larger aircraft that does not sell out on the same length flights.

  • $\begingroup$ Two aisles are indeed more comfortable, it feels like you have more room, you can stand up and walk a round and boarding is faster. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Jun 21, 2019 at 19:46

I take value proposition to mean criteria used by a purchaser to determine which aircraft to buy. Excluding financing deals and fleet commonality, the main criteria used when purchasing an aircraft are capacity, range, and seat mile cost.

  • 3 class capacity of the 767-400 is 243 vs 301 in a 777-200er.

  • range is 5600kt vs 7000kt respectively.

  • seat mile cost is 7 cents vs 7.5-9 cents respectively. source

Seat mile cost is trickier as airlines do the reports and they use different criteria. You would think that a larger plane would have lower seat mile costs, but configurations differ between aircraft, airlines, and trip length. You are also looking at the largest model of one series, usually the most efficient, and comparing it to the smallest of another, usually the least efficient. It's kind of a mess and the manufacturers argue about this all the time.

The upshot is that the 767-400 is better for thinner (lower passenger demand), shorter routes and the 777-200er is better for longer, thicker routes where the increased cost matters less, as the 767-400 can't do the job.

  • $\begingroup$ "You would think that a larger plane would have lower seat mile costs" Assuming you can fill them without reducing ticket prices, that is. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jun 21, 2019 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ @reirab Seat mile cost is independent of revenue. Sorry for the slow response. $\endgroup$
    – Pilothead
    Feb 28, 2020 at 1:08

I think the only airlines which would have considered a 767-400 is one which already has 767s in the fleet. And even then it would be a product at the end of its life-cycle so fleet renewal considerations would play a part.


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