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Boeing may increase range of 767-400ER

Paul Lewis/SEATTLE

Boeing is studying development of an increased-range version of the recently launched 767-400ER stretched derivative in response to demands from potential buyers for better performance.

The US manufacturer says that it is considering extending the range of the new 767-400 by up to a further 650km (350nm) by fitting additional fuel tanks in the belly of the aircraft. The standard -400ER version, launched by Delta Air Lines, will have a baseline range of 10,610km.

According to Boeing product marketing regional director Dan Olason, the -400 stretch fuselage can accommodate up to three auxiliary tanks, each capable of holding around 6,585litres of extra fuel. The tanks would be installed in the aft belly compartment, behind the aircraft's wingbox in the space provisionally reserved for additional LD2 containers.

The 241-seat aircraft is being designed to carry up to five freight pallets in the forward hold and a maximum of 18 LD2 luggage containers in the aft belly. Olason, however, suggests that, in many cases, airlines do not need to use fully the -400's lengthened belly for cargo and would rather use the extra space to carry fuel.

German charter operator Condor Flugdienst has indicated interest in the -400, but wants Boeing to make up for the shortfall in range, compared with that of the -300ER, incurred as a result of the aircraft's airframe stretch. The airline says that it would like to use the 15%- higher-capacity aircraft to supplement its smaller 767-300ERs, which have a range of 11,440km (Flight International, 10-16 September).

The US manufacturer is also targeting carriers showing interest in the Airbus A330- 200, and hopes to capitalise on the fleet commonality advantage of airlines now operating 767-200/300s.

Boeing says that the proposed extended-range aircraft would still have the same 204,300kg maximum take-off weight as that of the -400ER. General Electric and Rolls-Royce have both indicated that the respective additional need for power would be within the capabilities of the 289kN (65,000lb)-thrust CF6-80C2 and Trent 600 engines planned for the -400ER.