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Feature Story

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With its solid range and reliability, the Boeing 767 has become a dominant force in the mid-size passenger and cargo market.

1000 Boeing 767s and beyond

By Bernard Choi

For a new commercial airplane model, reaching the 1,000-order mark is not an easy task. The journey can be filled with challenges, not the least of which is market rejection.

On Twitter.com, @BoeingAirplanes asked aviation fans to share their thoughts about the Boeing 767. Watch this video to see why so many have a fondness for the airplane.

But Charlie Grieser said he knew 30 years ago the Boeing 767 would arrive at the land of commercial success.

"I said when this thing started, it would sell 1,000," said Grieser, a Boeing mechanic who helped joined the wing of the first 767 and has since worked on almost every section of the airplane. "I think the record of the 767 being a dependable airplane speaks for itself. It's a testament to the engineering."

On Sept. 7, the Boeing team proved Grieser right. Kim Pastega, the vice president and general manager of the 767 program, officially began final assembly of the 1,000th 767 by starting the loading of the wing spar.

"It's just a huge milestone. And I'll even compare it to earlier today I took my youngest daughter to kindergarten and so in a lot of ways you can compare it to one of those kinds of milestones that happen in life," said Pastega.

Boeing found the 767 to be the optimal airframe to provide the U.S. Air Force with the most capable air-refueling tanker for the lowest costs.

"The 767 is just a 'steady Eddie', it's going to keep going and keep going," said Grieser.

Boeing tooling engineer Kelson Na

Boeing/Bernard Choi

Charlie Grieser, left, shows a newer employee how to properly conduct quality inspections of the 767 wing.

There are more than 50 outstanding commercial orders for the 767. After that, it looks to have a long life in the defense arena. Boeing found the 767 to be the optimal airframe to provide the U.S. Air Force with the most capable air-refueling tanker for the lowest costs.

So Boeing is proposing the NewGen Tanker, a wide-body, multi-mission aircraft based on the proven 767 and updated with the most advanced technology.

Charlie Grieser likely won't be around to build those tankers but his tribal knowledge will be. For the past year, he has been mentoring younger employees as a way to pass on the torch.

"Oh yeah, this is going to go on. There's a process we have in place here," Grieser said. "I think it will be around for another 1,000 units.