FedEx and Boeing reported to be considering a 767-400 Freighter

  • David Harris
  • March 3, 2011
  • 3

A freighter version of the 767-400? Rumors from several sources indicate that FedEx is in discussions with Boeing regarding a freighter variant of the 767-400ER, presumably as a replacement for the 58 MD-10-10Fs and 17 MD-10-30Fs it now operates. The key characteristics of a potential 767-400F that would make it attractive to FedEx are:

  1. Cargo volume: A production freighter variant of the 767-400 would likely offer 28 main-deck pallet positions. This is four more than the 767-300F, and provides more usable volume than the MD-10Fs.
  2. Operating economics: As a new production freighter with just two engines, a 767-400F would obviously be much cheaper to operate than the older, three-engine MD-10s – an advantage that will only increase as the price of oil climbs.
  3. Crew commonality with FedEx’s growing 757-200F fleet.

Developing a new-build 767-400F could also make sense for Boeing. Obviously, if the project goes ahead, FedEx would likely order 70 or more units – a significant number in itself – and of course there is the possibility of orders from other customers. But don’t forget that Boeing just won a US Air Force contract to build 179 refueling tankers based on a 767 platform. A significant 767-400F order would help the manufacturer bridge between the end of 767 commercial production (it has a backlog of just 49 orders now) and the beginning of serial production of the tanker – something that may be more important than many observers realize.

 

And what sort of freighter will the 767-400 be? Compared to the more popular -300 model, the 767-400 offered a longer fuselage, aerodynamic improvements including raked wing tips, and increased takeoff weight. Fully loaded, the 767-400F is expected to have similar range capability to the 767-300F, adequate for trans-continental and trans-Atlantic operation.

 

Only thirty-seven 767-400s were built for commercial use, and all are still in operation, with 21 at Delta, and 16 at Continental.

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3 thoughts on “FedEx and Boeing reported to be considering a 767-400 Freighter

  1. I’m not surprised about this, based on the following:

    1. Suppport for aging Md11 fleet out of Long Beach Boeing is very limited

    2. FX is in love with their new 777Fs – the fuel conservation; the range; they’re the next phase of freight – they want & need newer (eg more fuel efficient) aircraft

    3. The supply line for new 777s (psgr or F) is congested– everybody is in line for deliveries

    4. Rumor on the street is 777 BCF can’t handle the weight and deliver the lift of 777F – perhaps not an issue to FX, but definitely an issue to to the freight companies that handle heavier cargo. Plus , there aren’t any psgr fleets that are willing to give them up for freight, at this time.

    5. Possible A330 availability for conversion will be very limited until 787s (and A350s) freely flowing from the production line to replace those aircraft

    6. With the tanker deal, Boeing has $$ incentive to offer the conversion deal

    Appears that all signs are pointing that the rumor is true…

  2. Hi All,

    This is indeed interesting news. There is one more benefit that FedEx can gain utilizing 767-400 freighter. The 767s pilots share a common type rating with 757s.  So FedEx pilots rated in the 757 would also be qualified to fly the 767 and vice versa. That can simplify the operation and save money.

    As for 767-400 tanker configuration – to the best of my knowledge it does not make sense. The tanker air refueling boom is located in its tail. This may cause take-off and landing limitations. Boeing overcomes these limitations on their KC-46A by selecting configuration of 767-200 fuselage and 767-300 wing (avoiding the longer 767-300 fuselage). Therefore, 767-400 is not practical as a tanker due to its longer fuselage.

    Jacob Netz

  3. Note: I have updated the original post in light of some new information, and to reflect what we published in this week’s issue of Cargo Facts Update. No substantive changes, but I wanted to incorporate a bit of new info, and also to remove the reference to the possibility of the -400 fuselage being used as a basis for the tanker (in light of Jacob’s comment, above).

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