Could Boeing Restart Production Of The 767?

One of the options raised as a possible Boeing 797 competitor was, in fact, the Boeing 767. It already flies the same route, is tried and true, and is already in the hands of plenty of airlines.

But airlines are desperate for more, and the fleet they have are starting to age, with the Boeing 767 having an average age of 22 years. But could Boeing restart production of the 767? The reality might be closer than you think.

American Airlines Boeing 767-300ER Source: Wikimedia

Why do airlines love the Boeing 767

Airlines love the Boeing 767 because of its usefulness on short haul, high-density routes. Routes such as Chicago to New York feature the aircraft heavily, and it allows them to cram up to 250 passengers, 50 more than the biggest 737, in a two-class configuration.

Airlines love it so much that they are actually retrofitting old aircraft with modern passenger comforts. Delta has decided to install their new Delta One suites onto 767-300ERs, claiming that they want the same businesses class experience throughout their fleet, including on their older planes:

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“We want to give customers access to the same product/choices they have on our other international widebody aircraft, We made a similar move by refreshing our 747 interiors before their retirement.” – Delta spokesperson

United is also upgrading its 767s. They will be installing flatbed Polaris seats throughout in a 1-1-1 configuration, to take advantage of the many business travelers flying between their major hubs.

“Our 767 aircraft are a good fit on the routes we operate them on — they are safe and have good operating economics, By investing in reconfiguring these aircraft we are providing our customers with a great product.” – United spokesperson.

United Airlines Boeing 767
United Airlines currently has 54 Boeing 767s in its fleet. Photo: Wikimedia.

Unfortunately, airlines will have to retire their 767 aircraft as they slowly push towards 30 years old, and with the Boeing 797 still years away, many are left with no other options than to switch to Airbus.

Unless, of course, Boeing restarted production…

Could Boeing restart production?

Now, there is an important point that this argument hangs on. Boeing wrapped up building passenger 767s back in 2012… but they have kept building freight 767s up until today. This means they are still building the same airframes, ordering the same engines and still have the same expertise onboard. An additional advantage is that the 767 is an existing plane; it is already FAA approved, tested and requires no additional training.

Now, a simple question would be, could Boeing restart production?

They currently have the capacity to make three 767s a month. With the Boeing 737 MAX facing possible delays, they could use this chance to create more 767s to fill in the gap using redundant capacity. Rumor has it that United is looking for 40 aircraft to fill in a gap in the next five to 10 years.

But realistically, the Boeing 767 is an old design for an aircraft. It has a high fuel burn per seat and would not have much longevity in a world full of MAX’s and NEOS. Should it be brought back for one last hurrah? Boeing doesn’t see it.

“Bringing back the 767 (passenger version) – I just don’t see it,” said Randy Tinseth, vice-president of commercial marketing back in March 2018.

What do you think? Should the Boeing 767 be brought back?

  1. A re-engined, aerodynamically tweaked 767 “neo” would probably make more sense (and have a lower list price) than the fantasized 797…

  2. You could maybe call it like a 767-8 for the -200; 767-9 for the -300 and the 767-10 for the -400
    They could also probably use the same fuselage and other similar components

  3. I think the 767 production should restart but only as the -300 this is because the -300 is still in production as a freighter so only slight changes to the airframe. But you might wonder what about the -400? The -400 only has two soul operators, UAL and Delta, this means that there just won’t be any demand for it. The -300 is still in service with many airline, TUI, Thomas Cook, UAL, Delta, AA, Air Canada Rouge just to name a few. These airlines may order them again as they are quite useful on both short and medium/long range routes. This is just my humble opinion about the 767 production restart.

  4. Re-engining, more composites, new wings, new instruments has already been done. It’s called a 787-8. Carries the same load as any 767, burns 20% less fuel, passengers love it and it won’t require a new FAA certification process like doing that to a 767 frame. Boeing was correct when they built the 787 and didn’t just tweak the 767. Tweaking on the part of Boeing has backfired with the 737-MAX. Boeing, in their desire to keep Southwest happy with no pilot training ever for an airplane 2 generations beyond the classic has cost it big time. The airplane sits too low for new engines and the flight control system is the same as a 707 with it’s cables and the need for the now famous MCAS.
    Boeing offered a deal to AA that would make it cheaper to buy 787-8’s than to retrofit only the interior of the 767. The idea of perpetuating old technology is unsound at best. Boeing perpetuated old technology with the 737-800 and then MAX. It’s time to come into the 21st. century and not go back to 1960.

  5. Boeing can utilize the 767-400ERX that they floated in 2000 as a starting point. Various improvements proposed, would share engines (2) with the 747-800, but only 3 firm orders were received at that time, so that program was cancelled in 2001. Boeing has previously stated (2018?) that they needed at least 35-40 firm orders to reconsider restarting pax production, so the 40 possible orders from United might just be the ticket! Wished they would restart 757 production, but that’s not happening.

  6. No, because it wouldn’t be efficient enough.

    B767 lose to A330ceo back in the day, and now Airbus comes up with A330neo. THe gap goes much further.

    Also, the only variants that airlines want is the -300ER and -300ERF.

  7. The return of the 757 is a no brainer. The airframe has proved itself as a reliable and stable structure it has a super critical wing design which the 737 has only recently adopted , the undercarriage is high enough to accomodate larger engines without dodgy location strategy that destroys the aircraft’s balance.
    The larger versions could seat 200+ and carry more fuel than the 737.
    The 757 is Boeing’s answer to the A320 and A321 neo versions being a single aisle aircraft with proven long range capability even when fully loaded.

  8. “Routes such as Chicago to New York feature the aircraft heavily?” Oh, really? In what decade? There are no 767s flying passengers between Chicago and New York nowadays – it’s all 737s, A319/320s, or even smaller things like the 717 and regional jets. Maybe when the 767 was first introduced, but it’s been over thirty years. This sort of glaring factual error makes me question the rest of the article.

    1. United Airlines routinely uses the 767-300 and 777-200 between ORD-EWR and ORD-IAH. They are short filler segments in between the long haul stuff those aircraft specialize in.

  9. At this point Boeing would be wise to restart production. When one considers the fact that the aircraft is already being produced in both freight and military versions it seemingly wouldn’t take a lot to begin such an undertaking. That coupled with the fact that the 767 design isn’t ancient and beyond its shelf life as is the case with some other airliners currently being produced. In addition, the industry is in desperate need of a new 220+- seat airplane that has the ability to go 5000 miles or more. Fuel burn certainly isn’t as good as the 787 but overall it’s not horrible and could likely be tweaked upwards with new technology. The current 767 fleet is getting old and becoming entirely too needy in the maintenance department. Unfortunately there are no replacements in sight until the 797 arrives on the scene but that likely won’t occur for 10 years or more due to the current situation. involving the Max.

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