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End of an era as Qantas farewells the 767

written by Gerard Frawley | December 27, 2014
VH-OGL over Sydney Harbour. (Seth Jaworski)
VH-OGL 767 YMML final take off 271214 VICTOR PODY
VH-OGL departs Melbourne for Sydney operating the last Qantas revenue passenger 767 flight. (Victor Pody)
Departures board at Melbourne Airport

After 927,000 flights carrying nearly 168 million passengers in a 29-year career, Qantas has retired the Boeing 767 from passenger service.

The final 767 passenger revenue flight was the appropriately numbered QF767 (re-numbered from QF452 – QF767 normally operates from Brisbane to Perth). Operated by VH-OGL, the flight departed Melbourne at 17:29 on Saturday afternoon and touched down at Sydney Airport at 18:57 after a series of scenic orbits over Sydney Harbour and the Sydney CBD.

On the flightdeck for the historic flight was Qantas head of flying operations Captain Mike Galvin and First Officer Kirrily Zupp. Behind them in the main cabin was a full load of 254 passengers, the large majority of whom were aviation enthusiasts who had specifically booked to fly on the final flight.

“It’s a beautiful aeroplane to fly, it’s very reliable, it has been very well maintained over the years,” Captain Galvin told Australian Aviation in Melbourne ahead of the final flight.

“It’s a joy for pilots to fly, it has a lot of thrust, it gets up and goes. It can be a bit tricky to land, but with more good ones [landings] than not so good ones.”   

First Officer Zupp agreed that: “It’s a beautiful aircraft to fly, it’s reliable, it’s solid and it has done such great work af Qantas over the years.

“Everyone will miss it.”

VH-OGL was one of five 767s operating on the type’s final day, with OGT operating Melbourne-Sydney; OGL operating Sydney-Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney; VH-OGU Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane; VH-OGO Sydney-Brisbane and VH-OGM Melbourne-Sydney-Melbourne-Sydney.

Passengers onboard QF767

In all Qantas has operated 41 Boeing 767s, mostly 767-300ERs, apart from an initial six 767-200ERs, and a single 767-300F Freighter which will continue to fly on with Qantas Freight, shuttling between Sydney and Auckland.

The 767 was Qantas’s first widebody twin, and its first twin-engined airliner since retiring the DC-3 decades earlier. Qantas’s first 767 was 767-200ER VH-EAJ, delivered in July 1985. The first 767-300ER, VH-OGA, followed in September 1988.

Initially the 767 was used on international flights to New Zealand, Asia and North America. Then from 1992 with the merger with Australian Airlines Qantas 767s would also be increasingly used for domestic services.

“It really launched Qantas into the Asia marketplace – Japan, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, all those sorts of places where we couldn’t really support the larger 747 aircraft,” Galvin said.

“With 250 passengers it was just perfect.”

In its latter years the 767 largely – apart from the Honolulu run – operated on the domestic ‘triangle’ between Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney and on transcontinental services to Perth.

“Doing those shorter domestic flights you’ve got so much extra power available to you. It can do anything, this aircraft,” Zupp said.

Popular with passengers for its unique 2+3+2 abreast economy class seating configuration, the 767 will be replaced in domestic service by Airbus A330-200s (a number of which are transferring across to Qantas from its Jetstar subsidiary) and increased utilisation of the Boeing 737-800 narrowbody fleet.

As for VH-OGL, it will fly on as one of four Qantas 767-338ERs sold to Boeing Capital that in turn, reportedly, have been sold to Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet, which is starting up a long-haul operation.

As more than one Qantas employee was heard to remark on Saturday, there is still plenty of life in the old bird yet.

“It is like a truck, it is very solid, we just love the feeling of taking off in the seven-six, you know it’s got so much extra power, it can give a lot more and you can use a bit more if you need it,” Zupp said.

“It’s a great aircraft.”

Said Galvin of the significance of the final flight: “I really haven’t had time to think too much about it. But there will be a certain sense of nostalgia.

“I’ll sit back and reflect after it is all done on what a great career I’ve had on a beautiful aeroplane, that’s for sure.”

VH-OGL fast facts
  • Name: City of Wangaratta
  • Line number: 402
  • Delivered: November 1991
  • Total flight hours (at December 18): 83,642
  • Total flight cycles (at December 18): 27,116
  • Total passengers carried: approx 5 million
  • Total distance travelled: approx 32.4 million nautical miles
  • Average flight hours per day: 9.9

A detailed feature article on the 767 in Qantas service appears in the January/February 2015 issue of Australian Aviation. The print magazine is on sale from January 5, the iPad app issue is now available to download from the App Store.

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Comments (20)

  • Peter R


    What a workhorse the Qantas 767 was, anyone who flew on the golden triangle route would of flown on one.

    Thank you for the memories.

  • JB


    I flew the 767 for 12 years, and almost 8,000 hours. Even though I’ve since flown bigger and newer, it remains my favourite.

  • haj


    Were “scenic orbit’s’ flown on any other day? I saw what I’m pretty sure was a QF767 flying low and slow in a westerly direction over Sydney’s Upper North Shore on Christmas day. I’ve never seen a airliner in that position before.

  • Rob


    I had the pleasure of flying on QF767 yesterday, it was a incredible experience and a very fitting memory of the trusty workhorse – the 767. She will be missed.

  • Jason


    I booked this flight especially to be part of the final flight and farewell. The 767 is my favourite aircraft and their awesome takeoff climbs thunderous roar and telltale engine whine, they will be sadly missed from our skies.

  • Sara


    I was lucky enough to be on QF767 yesterday. What a magnificent experience. Thanks to QANTAS for making it so special. Goodbye to the sense of glamour, promise and security the 767 gave us all. The Australian skies will never be the same.

  • Sarah


    I was on the final 767 flight and will never forget it – the atmosphere was great, the flyover the Sydney CBD was incredible and there was even a marriage proposal. A special flight that will long live in the memories of everyone on board – the enthusiasm for the 767 was not just from the many ‘avgeeks’ on board. The 767 was more than just a ‘workhorse’ – it was reliable, powerful, versatile and comfortable for the passengers in its 2-3-2 configuration. Both the -200s and -300s fit so well into the Qantas network, complimenting the 747s and 737s perfectly. Put simply, the 767 was a great aircraft that delivered everything it promised to Qantas and more……….

  • Stu Bee


    Farewell to the majestic Qantas 76ers. You will all be sadly missed, even the BA 767-336! What a rocket they were.
    As always Seth Jawroski’s photographic tributes are brilliant and a fitting tribute to a wonderful aircraft.

  • peter


    A sad day in aviation history,really enjoyed flying on 767s a great looking aircraft and a good fit for the punters,apart from the freight only 767 are there any airlines still flying these into Australia now or is that it,I know Air NZ still have a few left but there days must be numbered as well…

  • Peter


    As much as I loved the 767, the retiring of them from QANTAS is long over due. Qantas’s biggest problem re their losses was down to bad management, in keeping such old aircraft flying that are not fuel efficient, and pumping so much cash into that cheap airline of theirs Jetstar.

  • Fred


    Peter, I have heard that ANZ are planning on keeping theirs for quite a while yet.

    After the fitment of the winglets and new cabin furnishing, they are saving around 6% fuel at the same cruise. Their winglet modifications were paid for by Boeing as part of compensation for the late delivery of the 787. Qantas could have had the same!

    All Nippon having received three brand new ones in 2014 and will operating them for a while to come because of their flexibility in operating ranges and parking capability because of their 48m wingspan versus 60m of the newer types.

    The A330 is nearly 30 tonnes heavier ’empty’ for soon only 16 passengers more than the 767.

  • GAGA


    Do you have any figures to back your claim up Peter?

    Have you considered depreciation? A replacement A330-200 is about A$250 Million & some of these 767s are only 15 years old. That’s a loss of over $16 Million per year. I would like to see figures to explain how the the A330-200 can make up at least $16 Million per year in fuel savings as a replacement for these 767 “fuel guzzlers” keeping in mind that oil prices are currently at record lows.

  • Fred


    GAGA, exactly! “Fuel Guzzler”??

    At Top of Climb at Max Take Off Weight a 767-300GE (182T) is burning 5900Kg/hr compared to an A330-200 (233T) at 6800Kg/hr.

    The 76′ can carry just over 50% of its max weight in payload compared to the A332 at 48.5%. Empty, the A330-200 is nearly 20T heavier than an empty 767-300GE.

    Remember this was aircraft that was designed during the last big fuel crisis in the US to be very efficient. The A330 is not that much younger and uses a lot of the aerodynamics of the A300 just with a longer wing.

    You still have to park that big 60.3M wingspan somewhere as well compared to 48M.

  • Matt


    Did anyone notice that Adelaide never got its last 767 flight. My son and I were booked on this flight so we could be on the last QF 767 out of Adelaide. Qantas changed aircraft to a 737, most likely because they didn’t fill the plane and were going to loose money on the flight. I demanded my money back from Qantas and we missed out on our trip. Absolutly guttered!! Very dissapointed. Not going to fly Qantas/Jetstar again.

  • Dave


    Peter, Air NZ still fly a 767 to Perth on the Christchurch flight I believe.

    Interesting points made above about cost of the 767s vs A330s. I think the other thing to bear in mind is cost of maintenance and parts for an older aircraft. Does anyone know the reliability rate of the 767s vs the 330s?

  • Paul


    Our understanding was that Westjet was to get to older and two new 767 from Boeing Capital, but that may have been just a rumor.

  • Ian G


    Hello, our understanding and rumours/ truths here in Canada (see Westjet website)
    is that they are buying 4 ex 767-338ER’s from Boeing Capital, after the addition of Winglets,
    thereby becoming 767-300ERW’s (Qantas 038, Boeing customer delivery number removed)
    upon delivery mid 2015, for a Happy and continued career.
    For those traveling through HNL or OGG next fall, look for them, then European destination,
    Summer 2016!!!!

  • Fred


    Dave, after the 767-336RR Roller powered ‘Gas Guzzlers’ departed the fleet, the cost of fuel significantly reduced and so did reliability improve. The GE 767 is a gem of an aircraft.

    The 76’s were regularly called upon to rescue stranded passengers from the A330 including Jetstar in HNL and Perth weeks after “the Last (official) Flight from Perth” including as late as Boxing Day!!!.

    With Boeing still building the 767 for both civil (3 having been delivered in 2014 to ANA) and now the new USAF KC46 Tanker, parts won’t be an issue.

    Some of the A330-200 delivered are almost as old as the last 767-338s like OGU and OGV which has already departed in 2013.

    Remember Cathay Pacific were one of the first A330/340 operators and took delivery of their Airbus’ at about the same time as their first 777 and the 777 has been labelled ‘Old technology’ by some and this was back in the nineties.

  • John Harrison


    Yes great aircraft, and ofcourse its a Boeing, so its gotta be better than any Airbus any day. I’ve had many many trips in the B767, all three Qantas models (767-200ERs, 338 and the 336’s) I did 88 trips in the B767’s covering roughly around 158840 miles. Mainly back and forth across Australia (I live in Perth) and the odd overseas trips.
    Thankyou B767 fondly remembered.

  • Ian Deans


    In all this Qantas 767 hysteria, has everyone forgotten that it was Ansett that pioneered the type’s use in Australia from 1982.
    And they used them until the airline’s demise in 2001.
    Let’s not forget that please..

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