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Boeing 767 gets 5-year reprieve from climate rules

Extension will benefit Everett plant where it’s built

By Paige Cornwell, The Seattle Times
Published: May 20, 2024, 7:42pm

Boeing will have five extra years to build its 767 freighters in its Everett plant thanks to a provision in the newly passed Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.

Boeing won’t say what these extra years will mean for the aviation company beyond 2028, when it originally planned to shutter its 767F program because the plane doesn’t meet global aviation carbon emissions standards. Boeing could now sell the plane until 2033, but those planes would be out of compliance with international regulations and could only be flown in the United States.

Still, the company’s machinists and engineering unions last week hailed the extension as a win for workers as the FAA bill was passed by Congress and then signed by President Joe Biden.

Under international emissions standards set in 2017, airplane manufacturers by the beginning of 2028 must only build jets powered by the newest, most fuel-efficient engines.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, one of the lead negotiators on the $105 billion FAA bill, said Boeing workers brought the issue to his attention. The original Senate version of the legislation didn’t have the provision, whose inclusion in the final bill was first reported by The Air Current.

Workers said they needed more time to transition to “either better engines or a new plane that enters the market as both a passenger plane and as potential freighter replacement,” Larsen told reporters this week, according to a transcript provided by his office.

Boeing is not believed to be developing a new airliner at the moment, nor has the company indicated it plans to reengine the aging 767.

In a statement, Boeing didn’t comment on its lobbying or involvement, if any, in securing the extension, but said the company supports the civil aviation industry’s target to cut CO2 emissions to near-zero levels by 2050.

“As we look ahead to future medium-widebody freighter options for our customers, the 767F continues to be the most efficient midsize freighter available,” Boeing wrote in a statement.

Used by UPS, FedEx

Boeing first began manufacturing the cargo variant of the plane in the mid-1990s to expand its share of the cargo market. The medium widebody freighter can haul up to 52 tons of cargo and has a range of 3,255 nautical miles.

The 767 freighter is built in Boeing’s Everett plant, which has more than 30,000 workers, and is delivered to two customers: FedEx and UPS. The Everett plant’s production rate for the 767 is three per month, Boeing said.

Machinists union District 751 discussed and supported extending the life of the 767 line, President Jon Holden said, what he called a critical aircraft.

“Our members continue to be proud of the aircraft they build,” Holden said.

A spokesman for Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace said the union itself wasn’t involved in lobbying for the 767 extension but individual members could have brought it to Larsen.

“Our union is glad that the 767 will continue to support jobs in Everett,” SPEEA spokesperson Bryan Corliss said by email.

UPS has 88 767s in its fleet, and had consistent conversations with lawmakers about the FAA reauthorization bill, including the 767 provision, according to UPS spokeswoman Michelle Polk. The company has 19 jets on order.

FedEx has 137 767 freighters and is committed to buying 15 additional freighters through 2026, a spokesperson said.

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