By Scott Hamilton
Nov. 4, 2022, © Leeham News: David Calhoun’s decision to tank all-new airplane development kills the direct replacement for the Boeing 767-300ERF that was under development. It also places in doubt the development of the 787F.
Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, said on Nov. 2 that Boeing won’t launch any new airplane until the mid-2030 decade.
Boeing’s Product Development (PD) department was working on a 767-sized airplane that would begin with the freighter. For lack of a better term, we’ve called it the NMA-F in previous articles. The NMA-F would then be followed by passenger models for a full family of airplanes.
PD was also working on a derivate freighter for the 787, the 787F. Internally, the two teams were competing, as is Boeing’s process.
Killing all new airplanes kills the NMA-F. Funding for the 787F has been reduced, LNA is told. But there is no assurance that the 787F will be launched. If it is, as a derivative its launch would not be considered a “new airplane” program.
Although not the principal reason for Calhoun’s move, killing the NMA-F and casting doubt over the 787F may help Boeing in its effort to exempt the 767 from stringent standards adopted in 2017 by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The Federal Aviation Administration announced earlier this year it plans to adopt the ICAO standards. The emissions standards cannot be met by the 767. (Nor could the 777 Classic freighter, the 777-200LRF, meet them. Boeing launched the 777-8F program which will meet the standards.)
Under the ICAO standards, production of the 767-300ERF (and 777-200LRF) must cease from 2028. Boeing already seeks an exemption should the FAA’s plan become US policy.
With no alternative to the 767-300ERF, Boeing can argue that continuing production of the 767-300ERF with an exception to the rules is in the best interests of commercial aviation. FedEx and UPS each have large 767F fleets and continue to order new production models. FedEx Chairman Fred Smith told LNA in a September interview he’d like to see production continue.
Smith also pointed out that continuing production of the civilian 767 helps keep costs of the Boeing KC-46A aerial refueling tanker that will become the mainstay of the fleet for the US Air Force. The KC-46A is based on the 767-200ER. Both models are built on the same assembly line at Boeing’s Everett (WA) plant.
FedEx and UPS fly the 767-300ERF on average stage lengths of 2,000 to 3,000 miles, or largely US domestic flights. Whether Europe’s EASA would grant an exemption for use there, given no mid-market alternative, is unknown. Europe tends to be more aggressive on environmental matters than the US.
Before Calhoun’s move, it was expected that Boeing might be ready to announce a launch of the NMA-F or the 787F at next year’s Paris Air Show.