Designed back in 1978 as a replacement for the venerable Boeing 707 passenger aircraft, the Boeing 767 first took to the skies in 1981 as the company’s answer to putting their first two-engined long haul aircraft into the market. Much has changed since then and the last passenger version was delivered in 2014.
The freighter version takes over
The B767 has in the meantime proven its worth as a two engine, medium to long haul freighter which is in high demand from integrators and express operators around the globe.
Many outsourced passenger versions of the B767-300 have successfully been converted into freighters. These have gone to carriers such as Atlas Air, UPS, FedEx and DHL as well as during the past few years under the Amazon Prime flag whereby the aircraft are operated on their behalf by Atlas Air, ATSG and others.
It is not easy to determine exactly how many B767Fs there are presently on the market. They range from the -200F variant, of which in 2016 around 60 were in operation - to the -300F variant, which is the more popular aircraft. Here, in 2016 there were over 140 registered as freighters. That figure has increased quite a bit since then with new conversions and newly built freighters from Boeing.
Boeing wants to speed up production
CargoForwarder Global posed the question in November of last year as to whether the B767 freighter has a long-term future. We were convinced then that this is the case and even more so today.
Boeing has seen the future for this aircraft already back in 1993 when UPS placed an order with them for 60 new production aircraft. Things developed rather slowly after that, but now the market interest for this model has convinced the Seattle-based manufacturer to look at increasing the production line. Today’s demand stems mainly from the booming e-commerce market as well as the continued expansion by the established integrators.
Whereas production of the large B747 freighter has slowed - the B767F and its largest sister, the B777F have been on many carrier’s order books during the past couple of years. The B777F can carry almost twice as much as the B767F - but both have their own specific market niches. Conversions of outgoing passenger 767s continue, but the demand for Boeing to manufacture more of the pure 767 freighters has grown. The company presently has a backlog of around 100 aircraft of this type on their books (including military tankers) and their studies show that in order to meet future demand, they should increase production to three aircraft per month from the present 2.5 per month.
Long road ahead
Amazon already has 40 leased 767Fs in service and it is expected that this will double during the coming years. It is an interesting aircraft for them as it offers a good volume ratio with its 438 cubic meters and its 58-ton payload over a range of 6,000 kilometers. The B767F is ideal for Amazon and the e-commerce business with its 24 main deck and 7 lower deck full pallet positions.
Boeing has also delivered almost 40 B767s as military tankers, most of which are in use by the U.S Air Force. Other countries have shown interest as well and Boeing is in direct competition here with Airbus in the military market.
The 767 has come a long way since 1978 and it looks that it has a long road ahead.
John Mc Donagh