Boeing may produce a new freighter aircraft based on the B767 design
US aircraft manufacturer Boeing is studying a re-engined derivative of the 767 widebody for deployment in the air cargo market, with the aircraft projected to enter the market in 2025
US aircraft manufacturer Boeing is studying a re-engined derivative of the 767 widebody for deployment in the air cargo market, with the aircraft projected to enter the market in 2025.
As part of the study, a passenger version could provide Boeing with a lower-cost and lower-risk alternative to its proposed New Mid-market airplane (NMA), a clean-sheet design powered by next-generation engines.
According to London's Air Cargo News sister title FlightGlobal, the study, with project name 767-XF, is based on the B767-400 extended range (ER) platform and powered by GE Aviation GEnx engines.
To accommodate the larger-fan engines, the aircraft would incorporate extended landing gear to provide the necessary ground clearance. Beyond the re-engining and gear modifications, it is believed that the B767-XF study would be a minimum-change design using traditional structures, sources said.
At present, the mid-size 30-60 tonne freighter market is mainly covered by B767-300 freighters, B767-200Fs, B757-200Fs and Airbus A300 freighters. All three Boeing aircraft are available for conversion, while Boeing also offers the B767-300ERF as a production aircraft.
Boeing is currently producing the newbuild 767-300 freighter for FedEx and UPS and holds a firm backlog for 60 aircraft. The 767-XF would utilise the 767-300F's existing forward maindeck cargo door.
Boeing declined to comment on the 767 project, but said it is 'always studying the marketplace and looking at how we can best serve our customers'. It added that it secured a record number of orders for new and converted freighters last year (124). This included 32 B767 production- and converted-freighters, 'so we continue to see very healthy demand for the 767F platform'.
Boeing is evaluating how it tackles the so-called 'middle-of-the-market' and better compete against Airbus' A321XLR and A330neo derivatives. If a B767-X derivative was to replace the NMA in Boeing's product development plan, it could then potentially enable the US airframer to allocate its financial and engineering resources towards the development of a 'future small airplane'.
This could pave the way for more rapid development of an all-new single-aisle to succeed the B737 Max.