In 1987, British Airways secured an order for 28 Boeing 767s to replace their aging fleet of Lockheed TriStar aircraft. The Boeing 767 at the time was revolutionary, requiring only two crew members for an all-glass cockpit and able to outperform most aircraft in the BA fleet.
But what happened to the British Airways 767 fleet? Let’s find out.
Why did British Airways order the 767?
British Airways originally ordered the 767 for several reasons.
- BA needed to find a medium-sized wide-body aircraft for their inter-Europe and transatlantic routes that could replace their TriStar aircraft.
- They needed to find a way to make their fleet more fuel-efficient, and replacing a quad-engined or tri-engined aircraft with a more effective twin-engined aircraft was an easy solution.
- Boeing offered a better deal to British Airways than Airbus, who was offering the more expensive Airbus A300 at the time.
In 1987, British Airways would place an order for 28 Boeing 767-300ERs. The 767 series had been under production since the 1980s and the 767-300ER was the latest and greatest variant at the time (Boeing would build a -400 series and develop some pretty crazy double decker designs).
Compared to the outgoing Lockheed TriStar aircraft:
- The Lockheed TriStar could carry 246 passengers (two classes) to a range of 5,345 nmi (9,899 km).
- The Boeing 767-300ER could carry 261 passengers in two classes to a range of 5,980 nmi (11,070 km) which was a significant improvement for the airline.
What role did the 767 play in their fleet?
The Boeing 767 began its service in the British Airways fleet operating short domestic routes to train staff and show off the aircraft to the captive public. From there, the type started to operate inter-Europe routes such as London – Amsterdam, Athens, Rome, Frankfurt, Stockholm, and Istanbul.
When British Airways felt comfortable with the performance of the aircraft (and how their loyal passenger base preferred it with its much quieter jets and expansive space onboard), they started retiring their TriJet and DC-10 fleets to deploy the 767 instead. Its first transatlantic trip to the USA and down into Africa cemented the aircraft’s reputation as dependable, reliable and versatile.
“British Airways’ 767-300ERs had a variety of cabin configurations ranging from 97 seats in Business Class and 147 in Economy (244 seats) to 24 in Business, 24 in Premium and 141 in Economy (259 seats) or 259 seats in Economy.” – Airliner Watch
Why did British Airways retire the aircraft?
However, the perfect picture painted above was not entirely without its problems.
The British Airways 767 fleet suffered some flaws. The newer Rolls Royce RB211 engines equipped on the aircraft were actually heavier than the wings were designed for. This led to some structural problems that grounded their fleet until they were resolved.
Boeing delivered the 28 767s over eight years, but after only operating the type for 10 years, British Airways decided that they had too much capacity. They sent seven (practically brand new aircraft) to Qantas.
Eventually, British Airways decided to start replacing the 767s short-haul routes with its newer A320 fleet, and the long-haul routes with the game-changer 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) November 25, 2018
The last 767, G-BZHA, flew its final flight BA663 from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Heathrow back in 2018, closing the 767 British Airways chapter forever. The aircraft would be broken down for spare parts to be sold to other airlines still operating the aircraft.
What do you think? Did you ever fly on the British Airways 767? Let us know in the comments.