Boeing 767-200 ER, -300 ER. 1989. - History

Published on: 2021-01-14
Updated on: 2021-01-14
Category: Airplanes
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History Boeing B-767-200 ER, –300 ER.

Artistic vision of a Boeing 767 in the colors of PLL LOT. 1988 year. Photo of Boeing.
Artistic vision of a Boeing 767 in the colors of PLL LOT. 1988 year. Photo of Boeing.

In order to understand why at the end of the 1980s, in Poland ruled by communists, such a modern passenger plane from evil capitalism (as we were taught at the time) appeared, we must go back a few years early.

On March 14, 1980, the Iliuszyn Il-62 SP-LAA plane fell to the ground. All people on board were killed. The national carrier PLL LOT was changing the fleet. Ił-62 M planes with a completely different power unit were purchased. Unfortunately, on May 9, 1987, the Il-62 M SP-LBG fell to the ground. Again, everyone on board died, and ironically the cause was similar. Disadvantages of engines. Polish society is in shock. There is only one conclusion. You can't fly these machines any longer. The Americans ban the Iliuszyn Il-62 machines from arriving in their country. The Russian side is strong, but they are taking the planes back.

And then it turned out that PLL LOT does not have a single machine capable of maintaining the Atlantic connection. After many talks, decisions were made and in 1987, a contract was signed for the annual lease by LOT Polish Airlines of one Douglas DC-8 Super 62 aircraft, registration N8968U serial number 46069.

This solution was of course an ad hoc and the entire Polish society waited for concrete steps by the government. Finally, on November 4, 1988, the Government Press Office announced that the Prime Minister had approved LOT Polish Airlines' intention to lease three new, modern long-distance Boeing B-767 aircraft. The news made the Poles extremely happy, especially those behind Wielka Woda. At that time, there were approximately 140 B-767 airplanes operated by 36 airlines.

The lease was to be for up to 20 years. Thanks to this, it did not burden the state budget very much, because it was financed annually only with foreign currencies (exchangeable currency - zlotys were not exchangeable then) from the receipts of PLL LOT. The owners of the planes were an alliance of several American banks. It was also thanks to the Polish community.

Why was the Boeing B-767 selected? According to experts, it was the best plane in the world at that time. In 1984, it was the first twin-engine to be approved for transocean flights. The previous condition was a minimum of three engines. Boeing has had the most experience in passenger transportation over long distances and serving mass passengers. The Boeing service network was already well-developed in Europe. There were already several depots-warehouses for spare parts.

Aircraft construction.

LOT Polish Airlines has ordered three Boeing B-767 planes, in two different versions. The first two planes are the Boeing 767-200 ER. It is the basic version of the airframe, taking 208 passengers on board. 18 business class and 190 economy class seats in two cabins. ER (extended range) letters distinguish the model with an extended range of over 12,000 km. The prototype of the aircraft made its first flight in 1984. The power unit consists of General Electric CF6-80C2B6 engines, with a thrust of 2 x 266.9 kN. The price of the plane is $ 56-66 million. The contract stated that the first copy would be delivered in April 1989 and the second in May 1989.

The third copy is the Boeing 767-300 ER. The aircraft has a fuselage 6.5 m longer and thus takes 249 passengers, and the lower hold volume increased by 33%. 24 passengers in business class and 225 in economy. The fuselage, wings and undercarriage were strengthened. The first flight of this model was made in January 1986. The price of such a plane is $ 67-74 million. Delivered for PLL LOT in June 1990.

B-767-200 ER SP-LOA Gniezno during production in Everett. The photo was taken on March 13, 1989. Photo of LOT Polish Airlines
B-767-200 ER SP-LOA Gniezno during production in Everett. The photo was taken on March 13, 1989. Photo of LOT Polish Airlines

In the USA, in Everett, Washington, the construction of Polish aircraft was carried out as planned. It was already known that the first aircraft would receive the SP-LOA registration, and the second SP-LOB. The employees of the aviation giant, who admit to their Polish roots, put a lot of heart in the production. On April 16, 1989, a solemn mass was held with the blessing of the first machine. The celebration attracted a large number of Poles. The mass was celebrated and the plane was blessed by the priest of the Polish parish of Saint Bridget in Seattle-Tacoma, priest Józef Calik.

On April 23, 1989, at the Boeing Field Flight Test Center in Seatte, a Boeing 767-200 ER aircraft in the colors of PLL LOT stood at RWY, with a length of 2,800 m. The first modern Polish passenger plane. At this time, the handover ceremony of the plane to the Polish company takes place in the hangar. There were present representatives of Boeing management, vice-president of Boeing, Mr. Albrecht, director of PLL LOT for commercial matters, Mr. Z. Dąbrowski, captain pilot Władysław Wójcicki, captain of the crew that later flew to Poland. There were also representatives of the Polish community who always have tears in their eyes when they talk about Poland; Halina and Michał Jabłońscy, Walter Brachmański and others. Everyone visited the plane. Many people were very moved. For the Polish diaspora, this plane is a piece of the homeland.

During the inaugural flight with the Boeing 767, LOT Polish Airlines employees recalled the famous flight of the PLL LOT Lockheed L-14 H Super Electra with a Polish crew from 51 years ago. That flight was long and passed through South America, the South Atlantic and Africa. Now the distance to Poland is 8,623 km. The flight duration is only 10 hours and 15 minutes and you fly at an altitude of 10,600 meters.

Training of Polish crews for Boeing 767 planes.

The Boeing 767 is one of the first passenger airliners to be flown by only two people. There is no navigator, radio operator and on-board mechanic. Therefore, 30 people qualified by LOT Polish Airlines, i.e. 15 crews, flew to the US for training. The training was conducted in four stages.

The first stage is self-education. The pilot receives the materials; videotapes, slides, instructions. Then he takes the first exam. It was a 50-question test. There were three answers to each question and only one correct one. Time to complete the test 90 minutes. The second exam is also a test. 100 questions and 180 minutes. To pass both tests, you must get at least 70% of good answers. Our pilots scored 90-100%. Bravo!

The second stage was a simulator. 35 hours of exercises, mainly on computer programming for flight and abnormal situations, with procedures. The stage ended with an exam.

The third stage is also a simulator with 6 degrees of freedom. 35 hours of exercise. Flight without a computer, manual and automatic control and unusual situations were practiced. All activities of the pilots were assessed and scored. Pilots said that after 30 minutes of such training, they were completely sweaty. The final exam is a 240-minute flight in a crew simulator with an instructor.

The fourth stage is flying. 8 hours. Mainly take-offs and landings were practiced. Each pilot made 30 to 40 take-offs and landings. The final exams were conducted with the participation of the Polish side in the person of Colonel Czesław Filonowicz, the chief inspector of aviation personnel from the Civil Aviation Inspectorate in Warsaw. These four steps were performed over 45 days. For the next 30 days, Polish crews on Polish planes flew with an American instructor.

Our pilots returned from the USA without any complexes. Throughout the training period, they never used translators. They were treated the same as US pilots, i.e. equally. At the same time, our pilots confirmed that the B-767 flight is two generations ahead of the equipment with CCCP. This is a completely new philosophy of flying. Thanks to the computers, the plane will not allow for a maneuver that could cause a dangerous situation. Despite the crew of two people, piloting is not problematic. There are not hundreds of analog gauges in the cabin. Most of the information is collected on two cathode-ray color screens. The crew cabin is quiet (additionally soundproofed) and "dark", ie only relevant information is displayed. According to the regulations, a flight of up to 10 hours is piloted by a two-person crew. If the flight lasts 10 to 12 hours, there must be a third pilot with captain rating on board. If the flight is longer than 12 hours, there must be two crews on board. During the first months, until December 1989, both Polish planes had a flight time of 6,375 hours. According to specialists from Boeing, LOT Polish Airlines planes broke the world record, staying in the air for 14.5 hours a day. The planes performed very well, and Polish pilots proved that they mastered high technology.

Boeing 767-200 ER SP-LOB Balice. 2004 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Boeing 767-200 ER SP-LOB Balice. 2004 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Written by Karol Placha Hetman