Boeing studies extending 767-400ER range

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Guy Norris/SEATTLE

Boeing is evaluating the case for increasing the range of the 767-400ER to about 11,100km (6,000nm) in response to requests from Britannia Airways. The UK charter operator is interested in operating the stretched version of the twin on non-stop operations to Asia-Pacific destinations.

The -400ER, which is 6.7m longer than the -300, with an overall length of 61.4m, is configured to fly about 10,400km with 245 passengers and a maximum take off weight (MTOW) of 204,120kg (450,000lb). To gain the extra range, Boeing is studying using the space in the horizontal tail as a fuel tank, in a modification similar to that performed on the 747-400.

Boeing estimates that the tail tank would hold up to 7,580 litres (2,000USgal), taking total capacity to around 375,500 litres and raising MTOW to 208,840kg. "We are studying that for Britannia," confirms 767-400ER chief project engineer Henry Queen, who says that the modification would provide "400-500nm extra range".

Britannia, which operates 11 767-200s and five -300s, has yet to order the -400 and it is not clear whether the extended range study would also be adopted by the existing three customers for the -400ER. Several UK charter airlines, including Air 2000, Airtours and Leisure International Airways, which operate the Boeing 757 or 767, have chosen the longer range Airbus A330-200 for their future needs rather than the 767-400ER.

Altogether, 52 767-400ERs are on order from Continental Airlines (26), Delta Air Lines (21) and International Lease Finance (five). Britannia is evaluating bids from Boeing and Airbus as part of a fleet expansion programme.

Boeing believes that the move could provide an additional boost to the -400's attack on the market, which it estimates is for up to 900 aircraft from 2000 onwards.

The modification is also being considered for forward fit on new build -300ERs. The resulting 767-300ERX would have a range capability of almost 12,400km, slightly greater than that of the A330-200. Apart from the tail fuel option, the design is frozen. Major assembly is to begin early in January 1999.