LOT Polish Airlines’ fleet has a strong regional and short-haul focus. It has just 15 widebodies in its current 77-aircraft setup, accounting for less than 20% of the carrier’s planes. Nonetheless, widebodies play an important role in connecting Poland directly to longer-haul destinations, including several in the US. This role at the country’s flag carrier previously fell to aircraft from the Boeing 767 family. Let’s examine LOT’s relationship with these planes.
According to data from ch-aviation.com, the first variant of Boeing’s 767 family that LOT received was the 767-200ER. This model entered service in 1984, and was an extended-range version of the original 767-200, which itself had been introduced in 1982. LOT took delivery of its first 767-200ER in April 1989, with the second coming in May 1990.
These aircraft were registered as SP-LOA and SP-LOB respectively, and bore the names Gniezno and Kraków, after two Polish cities. The 767 served to replace the Ilyushin Il-62, which had once been the world’s largest jetliner, at LOT Both aircraft enjoyed nearly two decades of service with the Polish flag carrier, eventually leaving for Mexicana in 2008.
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While the 767-200 was a capable aircraft, its seven-abreast (2-3-2) configuration did limit its capacity somewhat. Luckily, Boeing had introduced a stretched version, the 767-300, by 1986. This was followed two years later by the extended-range 767-300ER, of which LOT Polish Airlines went on to operate seven. These aircraft arrived between 1990 and 2009.
LOT’s 767-300ERs also had a fairly wide range about them in terms of when they left the airline. Indeed, ch-aviation’s data shows that they did so between 2002 and 2013 (although five of the seven lasted until at least 2011). These aircraft went on to fly for carriers including Euro Atlantic Airways and Kharkiv Airlines, although some were scrapped or written off.
LOT replaced its 767s with aircraft Boeing’s next-generation 787 ‘Dreamliner’ family. These began arriving in 2012, and the Polish flag carrier now operates 15 planes from this game-changing series. Of these, eight are 787-8s, and seven are 787-9s.
A famous gear-up landing
One of LOT’s 767-300ERs stands out as having had a far more eventful end to its working life than the rest, namely SP-LPC Poznań. The Polish flag carrier received this aircraft in May 1997, and, save for brief leases to Air Italy and Santa Barbara Airlines, it served the airline for its entire career. This came to an end in alarming fashion in November 2011.
Specifically, the plane was involved in a gear-up landing in Warsaw, Poland. This happened at the conclusion of a flight from Newark Liberty International, numbered as flight 16. A hydraulic failure shortly after departing Newark meant that, when the time came to lower the landing gear on approach to Warsaw, the wheels would not deploy as planned.
The pilots elected to land the aircraft on its belly, after circling for around an hour. This allowed them to burn excess fuel, and for emergency services to prepare. Incredibly, no fatalities or even injuries resulted from the gear-up landing, with all 231 occupants evacuated within 90 seconds. The aircraft, however, was damaged beyond repair in the incident.
Did you ever fly on one of LOT’s 767s? If so, when did you do so, and where did the aircraft take you? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.