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