One year on and the Qantas 767 is still a favourite.
Today the 27/12/15 marks the anniversary of the retirement of the last passenger operating Qantas Boeing 767 in Australia.
The 767 didn’t appear in Qantas colours first however this honour goes to the now defunct Ansett Airlines who ordered five 767-200s as part of their massive 21 aircraft, $600 million dollar order in March 1980 that also included 12 737-200s and four 727-200LRs. At the time the 767s had a unit per airframe cost of $42 million each. The first Ansett aircraft which was ship number 24 on the production line was to become VH-RMD a 767-277 and was handed over to Ansett on June 6 1983 after being delayed due to a down turn in air travel in Australia.
Qantas was also to select the Boeing 767-200 series in the ER or Extended Range form and placed an order with Boeing for the supply of six aircraft being placed in late 1983. The first aircraft was construction no 23304 767-238ER, VH-EAJ “City of Wollongong’ and was delivered to Qantas in Sydney in 5 July 1985. The delivery of the 767 to Qantas was a big change for Qantas who up until that time had been an all 747 operation. The final aircraft delivered to Qantas was an extra order such was the success of the integration of the aircraft into the airline that it was able to open up new routes and provide greater frequency for the airline.
Qantas soon realised the 767 was the perfect airframe for the airline which led to the placing of an order for the stretched and updated version the 300 Series. This mark of the aircraft was also a departure of tradition from the airline with the new aircraft being ordered with General Electric engines. Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce had been the preferred engine choice on its 747s. VH-OGA became the “City of Whyalla” and on August 26 1988 was the first of an eventual fleet of 29 767-300s delivered and operated by the airline.
Such was Qantas’s trust in the airframe that seven ex British Airways 767-336ERs were leased to Qantas from August 2000. These aircraft were different to the previous 767s in that they were fitted with Rolls Royce RB211 Engines. Eventually these aircraft were purchased by the airline. The 767 fleet was to be adapted to the changing face of Qantas. In the early 90’s Qantas started the Australia Asia division of the airline which was set up to serve Taipei. At the time the Chinese had restrictions precluding Qantas from operating to China and Taiwan. These services lasted until 1994. Another livery to appear on Qantas owned 767s was the very popular bright Orange Australian Airlines livery. Australian Airlines was Qantas’s first try at a low cost airline. The Orange 767s plied the skies from 2002-2006. The 767s kept flying on and GE and Qantas celebrated one million flight hours in 2006 by the CF6 powered fleet. Not one engine shut down since the aircraft introduction into Qantas service. Qantas was recognised as the world leader which meant a performance figure that was six times better than the world’s average.
As with all aspects of life and aircraft age was catching up with the 767s. Being heavily utilised in the Qantas domestic and international schedule the aircraft was well suited to the airlines high cycle environment. Replacement was needed, and after an evaluation between the Airbus A330-200 and the 767-400 it was the A330 which one the fight. As more A330s entered service the 767 started leaving the fleet with the ex BA 767’s the first to go. The long delayed 787s were to replace the rest of the fleet which was first ordered in 2008. The delay in the 787s meant a stay of execution for the fleet and with Virgin Australia now biting at Qantas’s heels a cabin upgrade was commenced. New seat fabrics and new IFE (inflight entertainment) was installed. But no matter the upgrade the aircraft were on borrowed time within Qantas’s fleet. High cycles, age and the cost of operation per seat kilometre and the now high fuel burn coupled with high fuel prices and the old technology engines meant the aircraft had to be retired.
A career that spanned 29 years of service came to an end on December 27 2014 when the last flight was performed by 767-338ER, VH-OGL. Operating the types lasted scheduled service as QF767 from Melbourne to Sydney and on the flight deck was the head of Qantas flying operations Mike Galvin and First Officer Kirrily Zupp. VH-OGL arrived in Sydney airport at 18:57 after performing a scenic flight around Sydney harbour and the Sydney CBD.
So ended the 767 passenger operations at Qantas. However there is still one 767 in the Qantas Freight fleet still flying. 767-381F VH-EFR still climbs the skies and is commonly seen plying its trade between Christchurch, New Zealand and Sydney.
Qantas has operated a total of 41 767s in its fleet. And when combined have flown more than 1.8 billion kilometres.
A final word in that such was the high standard of maintenance and the condition of the Qantas 767 fleet that several are now flying again as freighters around the world, four have been sold to Canadian Airline Westjet and have been refurbished again for passenger use and have had winglets fitted.
At ASO we thought it would be nice to do a tribute to this old workhorse and the crews that flew, operated and maintained the aircraft this is for you all.
Here is video from onboard as the 767 taxis out from Melbourne (YMML) and takes off for the last time with passengers:https://youtu.be/2w3VCPQ-xQI
Video by ASO team.