The 767, the jetliner that seems forever young, delivered the first airplane built at the higher 3-per-month rate to FedEx this week.
The program has undergone a factory transformation to help up its monthly output from 2.5 to 3 airplanes per month. The airplanes keep rolling out due to their demand as freighters and as a derivative for the KC-46A tanker.
“This is an exciting day,” said Kim Smith, who joined the 747/767 program last week as vice president and general manager. “The team has worked so hard to get to this point to deliver more 767 Freighters to help our customers grow their businesses.”
Smith said both FedEx and UPS are counting on the program to flawlessly deliver 767 Freighters this year. FedEx ordered 50 767-300 Freighters in 2015 with an option for 50 more.
The first three-a-month airplane is also the 1,201st 767 to be built since the program was launched nearly 40 years ago. It has become a favorite of cargo carriers for its reputation for dependability and durability, with maintenance service and repairs proving to be relatively uncomplicated, according to technicians who work on it.
Quality inspector Brian Kohls has logged 33 years with the 767 program. Initially a join mechanic, he hasn’t been inclined to work anywhere else. “I never wanted to leave,” Kohls said. “I just had an intuition it would last, so I stayed. I will spend my whole career in one program.”
FedEx is the world’s largest cargo airline and the largest operator of Boeing 767-300 Freighters. The company operates more than 80 of the venerable airplanes, the workhorse of the mid-sized freighter market.
The demand for 767s has brought not only a rate increase but a production transformation to the program. And last year, the Dreamlifter, a converted 747 built to ferry parts for the 787 program, expanded its capability to deliver a fully assembled forward fuselage section of the 767 from the supplier.
“We are transforming our factory with new tools and new work processes that are improving safety and efficiency,” said Brett Vandeputte, 747/767 Director of Operations.
By Mike Barber and Shaniqua Manning Muhammad