Yesterday was quite the milestone for Boeing. About three weeks ago, Boeing invited folks to check out the 1000th Boeing 767 during final assembly. It was a small gathering of people to remember how much the 767 has done for the airline community and looking forward to a possible tanker deal. Yesterday’s event was quite a bit larger and really felt more like a celebration.
Even though the 1000th 767, in All Nippon Airways (ANA) livery, was center stage, the ceremony really honored the past, present and future of workers who have had an impact on the 767. Bus loads of retired Boeing employees, who at one time or another worked on the 767 line, were taken to the factory floor and as the ceremony progressed, current Boeing employees gathered from all around the factory to join in on the event. We were all treated to multiple professional videos showcasing the 767’s past and there was even a 767 song that was surprisingly catchy (trying to work on getting a copy of that still).
This also gave an opportunity to look at the recent 767 production line reconfigurations. While fancy lights shined on the 1000th 767, the much less popular 1001st Boeing 767 looked on. Even though it didn’t get the attention it deserves, the 1001st aircraft will be the first to actually roll off the new 767 line. To create the new line, 8000 yards of concrete were removed, a building was partly cutdown, a new hangar door was installed and 767 tooling was moved around. It was quite the change and leaves the 767 a pathway from the rear of the factory to the front with just five feet of clearance in some areas.
During the event, Jim Albaugh, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, stated he was confident that the Boeing 767 would have a long life ahead of it, even if the tanker deal does not go through. “The 767 is still a very, very efficient airplane. In fact, from a trip standpoint, it’s the most-efficient twin-aisle airplane being manufactured (it’s also the smallest).” Albaugh continued, “And we have quite a number of customers we’re talking to right now about buying this airplane for commercial use. And I think we’ll be here, I hope, in another few years to be talking about the delivery of airplane 2,000.”
This is not to say that Boeing doesn’t have every confidence that the 767 tanker will be chosen. “It’s the best airplane,” Albaugh said. “It’s an airplane that can put more booms in the sky. It’s an airplane that’s much more efficient to operate. It’s an airplane that can forward deploy to all the fields that the Air Force needs it to go to.”
After the ceremony, when Albaugh was asked how the older Boeing 767 will be able to effectively compete with the Airbus A330, he stated that the demand for wide body aircraft will be too great and with recent cost reductions in the aircraft, the 767 can will be a viable competitor. “We have figured out a way to take a lot of cost out of this airplane. And I think now that we’ve worked through that we’re going to have a very competitive offering going forward.” He also talked about the A320neo, the 777 replacement and outsourcing lessons learned on the 787. It’s all good information, but since Aubrey Cohen with the Seattle PI covered those parts so well, I don’t want to re-hash here.
Boeing has put a lot of time and money on the line for the future of the 767. I might not have the positive outlook for the 767’s future, if the tanker deal doesn’t go through, but I would imagine Boeing has looked how to convert the 767 line to produce 787’s if needed. Let’s hope one way or another it all pays off.
Of course you need more eye candy: here are 28 photos of the 1000th 767 event and a video from Boeing showcasing three generations on the 767.
It is interesting (at least to me) to see the different headlines that come from people attending the same event. I find it sort of refreshing. Here are some examples (all good reads btw):
* Boeing’s new 767 line ready to make Air Force tankers by Aubrey Cohen at Seattle PI
* Boeing rolls out 1,000th 767, but all eyes still on tanker deal by Glenn Farley at KING5
* Temporary 787 line in Everett could become more permanent by Michelle Dunlop with The Everett Herald
* Albaugh says Boeing’s 767 can still find customers by Dominic Gates with the Seattle Times
* Boeing Celebrates Completion of 1,000th 767 Jet by NYCAviation