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Boeing Changes the 767 Production Line — Plans to Continue Building 767s

Japan Airlines 767-300 at Paine Field

Japan Airlines 767-300 at Paine Field

Boeing recently did a little re-arranging at their Everett facility for the 767 line (check out Boeing’s video). Moving 200-tons of tools is not easy, but neither is making Boeing aircraft. Instead of taking apart the tooling apparatus and re-constructing it, Boeing decided to move it like an old house. Boeing hired an outside team to jack up the apparatus and drive it to its new location.

This move will decrease the number of days to make a Boeing 767 and increase the amount of space available on the production floor. The Boeing 737 and 777 programs completed a similar change a while back. A big change from previous lines is the exit for the line will be in back of the hangars and not the front.

Now, this just leaves the question, “why?” Boeing currently only has three orders for the 767 all from Azerbaijan Airlines, but there are 55 in the backlog waiting to still be built. The 767 was first introduced almost 30 years ago and there have almost been 1000 built. Many see the Boeing 787 as the replacement for the 767, so why put this money into an aging product?

I can only imagine this move is preparing to build the next generation of military tanker using the Boeing 767 frame. I was curious if Boeing would still plan to produce 767’s if they don’t win the tanker bid and I heard back from Leslie Hazzard, with Boeing Commercial Airplanes Communications.

She told me, “We continue to market and sell the 767 and plan to continue building it as long we see customer demand for the airplane. If we win the U.S. Air Force contract for replacement aerial refueling tankers, we will integrate Tanker production with commercial airplane production on an ITAR-compliant production line.”

It looks like Boeing is planning to win the contract and I feel they most likely will. If they don’t win the contact, will there be enough of a need for an updated Boeing 767 and a Boeing 787? That, I am not so sure about.

Image: Sabian404

5 comments to Boeing Changes the 767 Production Line — Plans to Continue Building 767s

  • mike murray

    http://active.boeing.com/commercial/orders/index.cfm?content=displaystandardreport.cfm&pageid=m25066&RequestTimeout=20000

    Hey David,

    You should check out the above link for acurate backlog information; there were 55 on the books prior to Azerbaijan’s recent order. The link you have above is current year sales only.

    Keep on reporting,

    Mike

    • Hey Mike, thanks for your comment!

      The backlog talks to what has happened, but not to the future. The Boeing 787 has been delayed, which I think has caused airlines to continue to order Boeing 767’s. There are 55 that still need to be filled, but that doesn’t mean there will be that many in the future.

      There were 24 orders in 2008, 7 in 2009 and only 3 in 2010.

      As 787’s start to make their way into the market, I am sure the demand for the 767 will go way down. Even if the contract for the tanker goes through, I could see the 767F still being popular, but quite possibly the passenger version to stop production.

      David

  • Ben

    Maybe you can explain why there is a back log of orders going back 2 years when Boeings own website that according to demand they can produce 5 767s a month if only 3 were ordered this year 7 last and 24 the year before that would be 34 planes in 36 months and they still can’t keep up ?

    • Hey Ben!

      Good question. I will let Leslie Hazzard help answer that one:

      “Our backlog is based on market demand and timing. Our most frequent customers over the past several years have included ANA, JAL, LAN, UPS and Uzbekistan Airways, with smaller orders from DHL, the Japanese government (a tanker), Shanghai Airlines and a business jet/VIP customer. Order totals for the past five years were 19 in 2005, 10 in 2006, 36 in 2007, 24 in 2008 and 7 in 2009.”

      David

  • [...] why bring up the 1000th Boeing 767 again? On Monday Boeing invited a few folks out to take a look at the final assembly of the 1000th 767, [...]

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