This came out of an internal communication at United earlier this week. The airline is going to redo its 767-300s and eliminate First Class. Is this a good move? Is United making a mistake here or is this the way to go?
Refurbished 767s will have new interiors, reliability upgrades
This August, we will begin the conversion of our 21-plane three-class Boeing 767-300 fleet to an all-new interior that matches our two-class 767s. The modifications include many behind-the-scenes but vitally important improvements that should extend the life of the fleet by years and improve reliability.
Overall reliability for the 767s has improved over the last 10 months. We began a reliability initiative focused on this fleet in August 2014 and cancels through June 30 are down 26 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.
The upcoming modifications should further improve our performance on two broad fronts.
First, we will take advantage of the lengthy modification period (up to three months per aircraft) to schedule and perform a number of safety and reliability improvements, some mandated by airworthiness directives and others identified by Reliability Engineering as having the greatest reliability return on investment. According to Tech Services VP John Wiitala, this was the most extensive review of its kind we’ve ever conducted on a subfleet.
Secondly, the new interiors – including seats, entertainment systems, bins, panels, galleys and crew-rest areas – will inherently be more reliable than the aging systems and fixtures on the existing fleet. Current interior components and systems account for the majority of our short delays on 767-300s, so putting in a new cabin nose to tail should drive down those delays considerably, John said.
We should complete the prototype aircraft before the end of this year and the entire 767 fleet by the end of 2017. The new interiors will feature 30 BusinessFirst lie-flat seats and 46 Economy Plus and 138 Economy seats, in the same 2-3-2 layout as the current configuration, for a total of 214 seats. We’ll also be adding Wi-Fi and upgrading the audio-video systems on these aircraft.