A mid-to-long-range widebody twinjet airliner produced by Boeing since 1981.
The Boeing 767 is a medium-to-long-range twin-engine widebody jetliner produced by boeing since 1981; it was Boeing’s second-ever widebody (after the boeing-747), and their first widebody twinjet. It was developed alongside the boeing-757, a relatively-long-range narrowbody which entered service shortly after the 767, and the two share a great deal in common.
Development of what would eventually become the 767 began in 1972, as Boeing, flush with the success of the 747, contemplated building a smaller widebody to replace inefficient first-generation jetliners like the boeing-707. To reduce the cost and risk associated with designing and building another widebody from the ground up, Boeing brought Italian and Japanese aerospace companies on board, giving them fat, juicy contracts for parts of the plane in exchange for taking on a share of the potential losses should the 767 prove unsuccessful; this was the first (but far from the last) time Boeing had contracted out parts of its production line to foreign companies.
Initially, the 767 was to have been powered by three engines (like the dc-10 or lockheed-tristar), but Boeing soon decided on a twin-engine design, the concept of a widebody twinjet having been proven by the airbus-a300. The switch from three engines to two was the beginning of Boeing’s great shift from building the biggest airliners possible to building the most efficient airliners possible, and this new paradigm would be reflected most dramatically in the 767’s wings, which were carefully tweaked and retweaked (with, for the first time at Boeing, computers helping with the design process) to provide a maximum of lift with a minimum of drag, becoming (at the time) the most efficient wings of any Boeing airliner. Even crew costs were reduced, as the 767 was the first Boeing jetliner to use a “glass cockpit” (i.e., one with electronic display screens replacing ye olde mechanical dials and buttons), which eliminated the need for a flight-engineer (although Boeing still offered a three-person flight deck as an option for the 767) and allowed the 767 to become Boeing’s first widebody with a two-person flight deck (Boeing’s first flight-engineer-free jetliner of any type having been the boeing-737, which debuted in 1967).
The 767 first flew on 26 September 1981, and entered service with United Airlines two and a half weeks shy of a year later; to say that it was a riotous success would have been an understatement. Unlike most other new aircraft, the 767 had virtually no teething troubles to speak of, and its stature was buoyed further when the FAA approved it for 120-minute etops in May 1985, to be followed by 180-minute ETOPS in 1989. ETOPS approval allowed the 767 - which, until then, had been primarily used on transcontinental routes - to graduate to transatlantic service, where its superior efficiency gave it an advantage over the three- and four-engine jets that had previously dominated that market, to the point where, by the turn of the millennium, an outright majority of all transatlantic flights were flown by 767s (although it would soon be dethroned by the boeing-777, and, later, the boeing-787).
767 sales slowed midway through the first decade of the 21st century with the announcement of its successor, the 787; however, orders still continued to come in (especially for the cargo and tanker versions, which were relatively unaffected by the advent of the 787, which lacked, and still lacks, a freighter version, although Boeing plans to build one... eventually), with the 1,000th 767 (the first widebody twinjet to break the one-thousand-produced mark) reaching completion in February 2011, bound for All Nippon Airways. Production of passenger 767s finally ceased in 2014 as more and more 787s took flight, but freighter and tanker 767s continue to roll off the assembly line.
The 767 has three major passenger versions, plus a freighter and a tanker:
- The 767-200 was the original model (plans for a 767-100 were dropped when someone realized that it would cannibalize 757 sales), and 253 were produced. 128 were the original, medium-range -200, still mainly used for transcontinental flights, 121 were long-range -200ERs (the ER standing for Extended Range, something made possible by an additional fuel tank), first flying in 1984, and four were for an updated freighter variant of the -200ER (the 767-200C) which never saw a market (at least, not as a commercial freighter... but see below). 73 767-200s remain in service (52 original -200s and 21 -200ERs); ironically, while the freighter variant of the -200 never saw a single sale, many of the remaining passenger 767s have been modified to carry cargo instead!
- The 767-300 is a 6.43-meter (21.1-foot) stretch of the 767-200, entering service in 1986 with Japan Airlines. 104 original -300s were made, along with, starting in 1988, 583 of the long-range 767-300ER (such that the -300ER forms an absolute majority of all 767s ever built, although it stands to lose that distinction as new freighters and tankers add to the total of the other versions), which, like the -200ER, gained range by gaining fuel capacity. 34 original 767-300s, along with 376 -300ERs, remain in service today.
- The 767-400ER (no standard-range variant this time), stretched another 6.43 meters (21.1 feet) from the 767-300, entered service in 2000. This time - unlike with the -300 - the wings were stretched as well as the fuselage, with a 2.18-meter (7.15-foot) raked-back wingtip added on each side. The landing gear were strengthened too, to support the weight of this heavier aircraft, and the cabin and flight deck received a 777esque makeover. Arriving late to the party, only 37 passenger -400ERs were built (plus a one-off testbed for the U.S. Air Force, which was later converted to a VIP transport and fobbed off on the government of Bahrain), all of them still in operation.
- The main freighter version of the 767 is the 767-300F (based on the -300ER), which first hauled cargo for UPS in 1995. 212 have been ordered, with 144 of them completed and delivered so far; in addition, Boeing and several third-party companies have been doing a roaring trade in converting passenger -300s and -300ERs to freighters (these ex-passenger aircraft are known as the 767-300BCF, for “Boeing Converted Freighter”).
- The great efficiency of the 767 made it a natural choice for a military tanker with which to replace older quadjet KC-135s and trijet KC-10s; the Japanese and Italian air forces each ordered four KC-767 tankers (based off the failed 767-200C freighter, itself a derivative of the 767-200ER), and the U.S. Air Force settled on a standardized version thereof (with an updated, 767-400ER-based flight deck and avionics) as its tanker for the 21st century (which they, just to be different, insisted on renaming the KC-46A, or “Pegasus”), with the first examples entering service in early 2019. In addition, Colombia had two -200ERs converted from carrying passengers to carrying kerosene, and Brazil later had the same done with a pair of -300ERs.
The 767-200 (all variants) and the original 767-300 compete primarily with the airbus-a300 and airbus-a310; the 767-300ER and 767-400ER’s main competitors are the 787 and the airbus-a330, and tanker 767s compete against tanker A330s.