Welcoming the 767 to Our Fleet
Update 9/30/2013. Take a peek behind the scenes of our new 767 construction:
Like the old saying goes, nothing is constant in life except change, and we’re on the verge of a big one as we count down the minutes to the delivery of FedEx’s first Boeing 767. Personally, it has been very exciting for me to be a part of the process all the way from what started as a single mission several years ago: the evaluation of a domestic widebody replacement aircraft. Evaluating the different alternatives and observing the competition between different types led to the selection of the 767 in fall 2011. Then the long process of the purchase agreement, the excitement of seeing the building process begin—- it all culminates now in the first delivery on Sept. 4.
Most Boeing widebodies are assembled at the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington – they produce 767s, 777s, 787s and 747s, all in the same huge facility. We have followed the airplane through the production line for months, and it was amazing to see it come from many sub-assemblies into the final assembly process and finally roll off the line in July. There are FedEx employees stationed at the factory so they can help monitor the process every step of the way. The airplane comes out unpainted, so the first order of business is to roll it into the paint hangar. One of the best moments has been seeing the aircraft come out of the paint hangar in bright, shiny FedEx livery.
Because this is what’s called the “first of model” – the first 767 for FedEx – it has some configuration differences that are unique to us. Because of that, even though it’s a well-proven production airplane, it must go through a certification flight test program. That process is wrapping up now, and then our airplane will take its place in a “stall” on the Boeing delivery ramp, waiting for us to take delivery.
The 767s will gradually take the place of our MD10s as they are retired. Right now, as we get closer to the introduction of the aircraft into the fleet, dozens of different groups within Air Ops are ramping up to support it. Maintenance planning and training; technical training for mechanics and engineers; pilots going through transition training— this has been a huge team effort, touching virtually every part of Air Operations.