Qantas Boeing 767-338ER, A common sight in Australian skies over the past 30 years Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Qantas’ Boeing 767-338ER, a common sight in Australian skies over the past 30 years – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The 27th of December marked the end of an era in Australian aviation. Qantas retired the Boeing 767 fleet from passenger service.

Let’s take a brief look at the history of this true workhorse and Australian icon that has been part of the Qantas fleet for almost 30 years. Qantas took delivery of its first 767, a -200 series extended range aircraft, in 1985. The type was first introduced on the carrier’s services to southeast Asia as well as on trans-Tasman and Pacific routes.

In 1987, the carrier placed an order for the larger -300ER series. The -300ER not only had a larger capacity but also an increased range and more powerful General Electric CF6-80 engines. The 767-300ER was delivered to Qantas in a two-class configuration. There were two variants of this configuration, one for international service which had 25 business class and 204 economy class seats, and the domestic configuration, which had 30 business class seats and 224 economy class seats.

A unique configuration, 1-2-2 on the international version of the Qantas Boeing 767-338ER Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

A unique configuration, 1-2-2 on the international version of the Qantas Boeing 767-338ER – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The internationally-configured 767s were unique in that business class was configured in a 1-2-2 layout, and the 767s were the first Australian aircraft to offer in-seat IFE in business class. The economy cabin was also unique in that there was a “pod” at the front of the cabin for crew rest, as well as two rows of seats at the rear portioned off for additional crew rest.

Following the deregulation of the Australian domestic market in 1990, Qantas was permitted to once again operate domestic flight routes. With the introduction of the 767 into the fleet, and the domestic deregulation which allowed for increased passenger demand, Qantas used the 767 on domestic Australian flights. The domestic market is where the aircraft really became a true Australian icon. It was deployed on pretty much every major domestic route within the country; the most popular routes were the transcontinentals to Perth, as well as the main east coast triangle routes connecting Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

The office of a true Aussie icon, will be greatly missed by many #Avgeeks Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The office of a true Aussie icon will be greatly missed by many AvGeeks – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

As the years went on, Boeing 767 international operations were gradually reduced. In 2001, the first Australian international leisure carrier Australian Airlines was born; a number of 767 aircraft were transferred from Qantas to Australian. Following the re-branding of Australian Airlines in 2006 to the new low-cost carrier Jetstar, the 767s were returned to Qantas service.

The final international passenger service operated by the Qantas 767 were the Sydney-Honolulu-Sydney flights, which remained in 767 operation until September, 2014 when the service was replaced by the more fuel-efficient A330 aircraft.

BONUS: VIDEO: Qantas Retires Their Boeing 767s [60 Minutes]

As Jetstar continues to take delivery of the Boeing 787, Qantas is reinstating the Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which have been operating under the Jetstar brand name, back in to the mainline Qantas fleet as a suitable substitute to the 767.

The Qantas 767 workhorse waits patientally for another short domestic hop from Brisbane to Sydney  Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Qantas 767 waits patientally for another short domestic hop from Brisbane to Sydney – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

There was much fanfare brought on by the final Qantas Boeing 767 flight. The flight, operated from Melbourne to Sydney, was aptly renumbered to QF767 and there were many AvGeeks on board to cover this truly historic event.

An appropriate tribute for the final Qantas 767 passenger flight Photo: Bernard Proctor

An appropriate tribute for the final Qantas 767 passenger flight – Photo: Bernard Proctor

Passengers on the final flight were provided with many gifts, including commemorative t-shirts. They were also treated to a fly-by of Sydney Harbor on the arrival, as well as water cannon salutes in both Melbourne and Sydney. It really was a fitting tribute to this outstanding aircraft, which graced the Australian skies for nearly 30 years.

Next stop, Victorville, fleet disposal a sad fate that awaits all Qantas 767's Photo: Bernard Proctor

Next stop, Victorville, fleet disposal, a sad fate that awaits all Qantas 767s – Photo: Bernard Proctor

So where to now for the Qantas 767s? Well, as with all other previous aircraft, even VH-OGL’s final fate lies in the dry and barren desert of Victorville, in California. It really is a shame that Qantas has not elected to preserve one of the aircraft, as they have done recently with their first Boeing 747-400, VH-OJA. Whilst the 747 is the true icon of Qantas international operations, it would also be nice to pay tribute to the workhorse of the domestic fleet.

All is not lost, Qantas will continue to operate a freighter version of the 767-300 Photo: Bernard Proctor

All is not lost; Qantas will continue to operate a freighter version of the 767-300 – Photo: Bernard Proctor

Although it may be sad that the passenger versions of the Qantas Boeing 767 may no longer be around, the sole Qantas 767-300F freighter is still in operation, and has a few good years left under its belt. So all is not lost for the AvGeeks and 767 lovers among us.

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC A native of Australia, Jacob’s interest in aviation first came about as a child going on a long-haul flight between Australia and Europe to visit relatives. In addition to being a pilot himself, he has worked in operations for a charter airline, been on-the-ramp handling aircraft, worked as a slot coordinator for major airports, and currently works as an aircraft charter broker for corporate and VIP clients throughout Eastern Europe. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys photography, plane spotting, and travel. Email: [email protected].

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10 Comments
Jetdillo

Farewell 767!
I flew on one of these from CNS->SYD some years in the late ’90s. It always struck me as a bit odd to fly such a big plane on a comparatively short route, but story here puts a bit more sense to it.

bigbenaugust

No shots of the 767s in that glorious Australian Airlines paint scheme? 🙂

Bill Helbig

One important thing to remember. This airplane and its sexy sister, the 757, were perhaps airplanes that have represented the greatest jump in technological improvements in commercial aviation. The jet age, i.e. the 707s and DC 8s were huge improvements having jet engines, but in terms of avionics and aircraft systems, the 76/75 family were revolutionary in design. Of course the Concorde is an exception, but its the 76/75 aircraft which provide the template for follow-on aircraft. Even the 787, 30 years later has the same look and feel in their cockpits.

I flew on a Qantas 767 from Sydney to Darwin a few years ago. I was surprised that a 767 was making that trip considering all the 737s and A320-family aircraft used for similar distances in the US. I also got a great sense of Australia’s size and emptiness … for the entire 5 hours between the two cities, we rarely saw any lights on the ground!

Is it not correct that at least one of these aircraft (VH-OGT?) is going to Westjet?

4 767’s will be headed to WestJet. I believe they are all previous Qantas owned.

You will be happy to know that the 767 aircraft mentioned in this story, VH-OGL, has a new home and its not a desert…WestJet is the proud new papa of it along with 3 other ex Qantas units although it will look a tad different with winglets.

Reginald Huggins

With the addition of the 767’s will this mean that Westjet will be getting into the European market?
It would be nice to have a choose with Westjet flying to Europe from Toronto.

Parker West

it’s hard to believe that Qantas choose not to honor the aircraft and the brand with a museum donation as they did with the 744. I’ve flown the 767 along the east coast Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne routes, it was High Cotton time to see the big, proud bird rather than a single aisle, 320 fireplug awaiting me. The cockpit folks seemed to have a reverential love for the airframe, which wasn’t tough to understand. I don’t know how the 767s trip completion figures compare with the 330 or 744, but in the minds of many pilots I spoke to, this aircraft was bullet proof. I strongly recommend the documentary (on YouTube, lookup Qantas) highlighting a Qantas 767 delivery to the Mojave boneyard, this viewer along with the very personable captain come close to tears when the landing lights are turned on and the final ATC communication is complete. The Aussie host is a bit too much, trying way too hard to be the Aussie we expect to see in the Paul Hogan movies.
I would guess that, Fed-Ex, UPS might be looking to replace some of their beaten up A-300s, DC-10s with a pristine Qantas 767, the WestJet news is interesting, Calgary to Narita, Calgary-Toronto-London?

To the 60 minutes journalist who comments on the Mojave documentary. Sir, You might feeel safer with an all-female crew but that is not borne out by any logic or statistic. I suggest you close your pie hole – your comments were an insult to all air crew – flying does not give a shit if the PIC has tits or balls. And the top end both guys and gals are equally proficient. I wouldnt mind throwing badly educated, moronic journalists (who feel the need to influence the piblic with PC shite) out of a cargo hold at FL350 but unfortunately the pressure differential is a bit too much. On aother points, the journalist concerned clearly knew precious little about aircraft or the aviation culture, and the flight crew were rather bemused at his comments – they are, afer all, full professionals regardless of their gender! On to more pleasant topics – nice that the old girl is up and flying again – and particularly with a concern that will keep on looking afer her. To 60 minutes – stay on the ground – you are at least partially adequate there.

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