With delivery of UPS' final 767 having taken place in September, the backlog for the type is now down to three customers according to Aviation Week Intelligence Network's Fleet database: Air Astana (1), FedEx (44), and the United States Air Force (4, with more expected). It's obvious that FedEx and the USAF are keeping the 767 line alive and coincidentally, they did the same thing for the DC-10 line in the 1980s.
The DC-10 program was slowing down in the early 1980s to the point its backlog reached single digits by late 1982. The USAF gave the program a much-needed boost by ordering 44 KC-10s in early 1983 while FedEx ordered six DC-10s in mid-1984. FedEx and the USAF were the only two customers for the DC-10 until mid-1986 when Thai Airways ordered two. McDonnell Douglas was able to squeeze out a few more DC-10 orders from various customers to help keep the line alive until the first MD-11, the DC-10’s successor, could be delivered in 1990.
Fast forward to 2013 and the 767 program marches on thanks again to orders by the USAF and FedEx. Even though the 787 was designed to replace the 767, we can expect 767 deliveries to continue for years to come.
A FedEx DC-10 in Memphis in 1996.
Photo Credit: Brian Bostick