When Boeing introduced the 757 and 767 airliners in the early 1980s, they were game changers which ushered in a modern age in aircraft technology.
Designed to allow crews to be able to interchange between the two types, the aircraft were in fact very different despite having very similar cockpits.
The 757 was a narrow body aircraft intended to supersede the Boeing 727.
Meanwhile the 767 was Boeing’s first twin-jet widebody airliner, meant to compete with the Airbus A300 and replace older types like the 707.
Both types were a great success, but in this article we’ll look at the 767, which was initially offered in the -200 variant.
Despite offering a decent range, early 767s were ordered by all of America’s leading full-service airlines in order to fly on domestic trunk routes.
Popular sectors included east coast hubs like Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Miami to mid-west and west coast hubs like Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Ft Worth, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Only later -200ER extended range variants, plus the -300 and -400 models, would allow the 767 to dominate on long-range routes such as those across the North Atlantic.
Which Airlines Operated Early 767s?
The Boeing 767-200 was operated by the following carriers:
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Piedmont (later US Air)
- United Airlines
Continental Airlines was late to the game, operating 767-200ER models from 2000 onwards.
Northwest Airlines, the only other major US legacy airline, did not operate any 767s, focusing instead on Boeing 757 and older McDonnell Douglas DC-10 aircraft.
So what happened to these early 767s, and are any still flying?
Of American Airlines’ fleet, six are currently flying, having all been converted to freighters. They are flown by ABX Air, Capital Cargo Airlines and TAMPA Cargo.
Delta’s early 767s are also now flying as freighters with ABX Air. A couple are also with Star Air.
All of the former Piedmont and US Airways examples have sadly been withdrawn from use or scrapped.
Of TWAs 767-200s, some still fly as freighters with ABX Air.
Finally, United Airlines’ aircraft seem to have had a more exotic fate, having gone on to fly for airlines in Afghanistan, Thailand and Gabon. Yet all are now permanently withdrawn from use or scrapped
A Famous Early 767
One early Boeing 767-200 was Delta’s N102DA ‘Spirit of Delta’ which is now preserved at the Delta Flight Museum near Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson airport in Georgia.
This aircraft was paid for by the airline’s employees, and is now a proud memorial for the airline.
Two Tragic Early 767s
Sadly two of the early Boeing 767-200s in America’s fleets were lost in the most tragic circumstances.
On September 11, 2001, four aircraft were hijacked and deliberately crashed as part of an attack upon the United States, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives and the destruction of New York’s World Trade Centre twin towers.
Two of the aircraft involved were Boeing 767-200s. They were N334AA operating as American Airlines flight 11 from Boston the Los Angeles, and N612UA operating at United Airlines flight 175, also from Boston to Los Angeles.