767 sales keep line alive for tanker

Boeing last week announced an order for four more 767s (in this case, -300ERs) that help keep the line alive pending a new competition for the USAF aerial tanker.

Boeing previously booked an order for nine 767s for All Nippon Airways, a customer affected by delays with the 787. Japan Air Lines is expected to take nine 767s as well; there are nine listed on Boeing’s website as unidentified–these are believed to be JAL’s. Another airline ordered two 767s.

All four carriers are 787 customers affected by the delays.

There are now 68 unfilled orders listed on Boeing’s web site for the 767. Boeing’s production rate is currently one a month but it likely will go to two a month as early as 2010.

This is good news for Boeing in keeping the 767 line active while Boeing competes for the KC-X contract. (Good news, that is, which originates from the bad-news 787 delays, of course.)

It’s unclear how the Department of Defense and the Air Force will handle the new round of KC-X competition. DOD hasn’t said if it will simply restart the competition suspended from the GAO decision upholding the Boeing protest or completely restart the competition. If the former, a decision could be rendered within a year and the 767 production rate is moot. If the competition is completely restarted, worse-case, it could take up to four years. Before the 767 orders were placed to take care of 787 customer delays, the backlog was about four years at one a month. The current backlog and production rate gives Boeing four years to keep the line open.

Update, November 11: Lan Chile just announced the acquisition of four 767-300ERs for delivery starting in 2012 to accommodate delays in its 787 order.

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