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What is the Boeing 767X?
One of Boeing’s most successful freight aircraft (and a popular passenger aircraft too) is the Boeing 767. It has been flying for decades and has long been the workhorse of many airlines.
However, the design is old and it lacks many of the economic efficiencies found with more modern aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Thus Boeing is considering giving the variant (namely the Boeing 767-400) a makeover, with cabin improvements, new landing gear and namely new fuel-efficient engines. But why is this idea such a good one?
It solves the middle of the market problem
Boeing has been hard at work to design a new generation aircraft to fill in what is “the middle of the market”. The middle of the market is a special unserved area between short-haul small aircraft like the popular Boeing 737 and the long haul big aircraft like the Boeing 777 and 747.
Airlines need an aircraft that can serve short but dense routes, like Chicago to New York or Sydney to Melbourne. Routes that currently require many 737s or are too expensive to operate with a bigger aircraft.
Thus, the middle of the market is a hypothetical aircraft that carries 200-250 passengers, 2,000-3,000 nautical miles.
Enter the 797. Boeing has been rumored to be working on a clean sheet design of a new aircraft to fill these specs, but with no announcement date in sight, it will likely be decades away before airlines are flying it.
Boeing’s rival Airbus has started to fill this market with two aircraft: the Airbus A321XLR for the bottom half and the Airbus A330-800neo for the top half of the market, grabbing the eyes of many potential Boeing customers.
Thus, Boeing needs an aircraft sooner rather than later, so why not just update an aircraft they have on-site? Why not solve the gap with the 767X?
It is easy to build
Unlike the 757, the production of the 767 series has not actually stopped with a few more freighter variants still under construction today. Boeing could easily update the design with modern improvements and reopen orders for the 767X passenger variant.
As the design is essentially the same as the normal 767, the same body and the same wing, they would not have to spend years perfecting a new design. Several other advantages come from this path.
It would be available now, with airlines getting new aircraft in potentially months not years. With such a long backlog of aircraft for both the Boeing 737 line and Airbus’ A320 line, the chance that an airline can get in the air as soon as possible would be tempting indeed.
The 767X would also be cheaper as it would be a steel* fuselage and without the bells and whistles on more advanced rival aircraft.
It is easy to fly
Because the 767X has the same aerodynamics as the 767-400, pilots who already have the type rating to fly the aircraft would not have to relearn anything new. They likely would just have a tour of the aircraft and a short week of training.
Boeing hopes to target the 767X to cargo customers like FedEx and DHL first, but possible passenger variants could be sold to United or other carriers and easily fill in their capacity shortfall.
What do you think? Would you fly on the 767X? Let us know in the comments!
*The author makes no attempt to list the exact metallurgy of the Boeing 767.