Boeing 767 vs. 747: How Do They Compare?

The 747 first went into service in 1970, and the 767 followed just over a decade later in. The 747 production run has now ended and the passenger variants of the 767 are also no longer in production with the numbers in commercial airline fleets now dwindling rapidly. However, the 767 freighter and tanker are still available.

In this article, I’ll compare these two Boeing widebody aircraft from a number of different perspectives. So, let’s see how they compare in terms of key attributes such as size, seating capacity, range, and orders.

Boeing 767 vs. 747: How Do They Compare?


The 767 was the first Boeing wide-body aircraft to be designed for two flight crew members.

The first orders for this jet were placed in 1978 and the passenger versions are no longer in production, with the last passenger 767 rolling out in 2014. After 2012, all 767 orders have been for the freighter and tanker versions of this aircraft, with FedEx being the major freighter customer.

This aircraft was was designed to replace the market at the time occupied by aircraft such as the aging 707, Douglas DC-8, Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

Boeing 767-200

The 767 family includes five passenger models, the 767 freighter which is based on the 767-300ER fuselage, and the 767 military tanker which is based on the 767-200ER (the KC-46 designated as the 767-2C in Boeing’s order book data). In 1985, the 767 was ETOPS certified allowing it to fly regular routes across the Atlantic Ocean.

The main 767 variants and their first in commercial service dates are as follows:

Aircraft Model Type First In Service
767-200 Passenger 1982
767-200ER Passenger 1984
767-300 Passenger 1986
767-300ER Passenger 1988
767-400ER Passenger 2000
767-300F Freighter 1995

The 747 was conceived as air travel began to become more popular in the 1960s, and at this time Pan Am’s President had asked Boeing to design a new passenger jet 2.5 times the size of current aircraft such as Boeing’s 707, with 30% lower per passenger costs.

Boeing began its 747 studies in 1965, and asked Pan Am and other airlines to contribute so that airline requirements and objectives could be better understood. By April 1966, Pan Am had ordered 25 of the first 747 variant, the 747-100.

As Boeing did not have a manufacturing plant large enough to assemble this new giant airliner, they chose to build a brand new plant in Everett, around 50km north of Seattle on a 320-ha site adjoining Paine Airfield military base. Boeing bought the site in June 1966.

Boeing 747

Boeing agreed to deliver the first 747 to Pan Am by the end of 1969. On September 30, 1968, the first 747 was rolled out of the Everett assembly building before the world’s press and representatives of the twenty-six airlines that had already placed orders. The first flight took place on February 9, 1969, and was followed by an exhaustive flight test program.

The company took a test aircraft to the 1969 Paris Air Show where it was displayed to the public for the first time. The 747 received its FAA airworthiness certificate in December 1969, and the first 747 was delivered to Pan Am on time in December 1969. It entered service on January 22, 1970, on Pan Am’s flagship New York – London route.

Growing demand for longer-range aircraft with increased capacity, lead to the development of the 747-200. The 747-200 was produced in passenger, freighter, convertible, and combi versions. The 747-200 was launched in 1968 and took its first commercial flight in 1971. Boeing then released the 747-100SR in 1973 which was a shorter-range, high-capacity 747, with around 500 seats, developed mainly to serve domestic routes between major Japanese cities.

One of the most distinctive 747 variants is the 747-SP which was almost 15m shorter than the 747-100 and was developed in response to airline requests for a longer-range, high-capacity aircraft. This variant first flew commercially in 1976.

The 747-300 was the first 747 variant to have an extended upper deck and offered increased seating capacity. The 747-300 took its first commercial flight in 1983. Besides the passenger version of the 747-300, Boeing also produced a 747-300 combi and short-range (SR). The 747-300SR had a high seating capacity approaching 600 passengers and, similar to the 747-100SR, was produced for the Japanese domestic market.

In 1985, the development of the 747-400 began. This variant had a longer range, a new ‘glass cockpit’ for an aircrew of two, new engines, lighter construction materials, winglets, and a redesigned interior. The 747-400 entered service in 1989. The 747-400 was offered in passenger, freighter, combi, domestic, extended-range passenger, and extended-range freighter versions.

The 747-400D was built for short-range operations with maximum seating for more than 600 passengers. The longer-range 747-400ERs were launched in late 2000. The 747-400ERs are the same size as the 747-400s but have a slightly longer range with an auxiliary fuel tank in the forward cargo hold, and an option for a second tank.

Boeing 747-400

In November 2005, Boeing announced it was launching the 747-8 – the stretched fuselage and longer wingspan 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8I) passenger aircraft and the 747-8 freighter (747-8F). The 747-8 incorporates innovative technologies from the 787 Dreamliner, including GEnx-2B engines, raked wingtips, a reduced noise footprint, reduced carbon emissions, lower weight, less fuel consumption, fewer parts, and less maintenance.

The 747-8F made its maiden flight in February 2010 and the first delivery went to Cargolux in 2011. The first 747-8I took its maiden flight in March 2011 and the first few customer deliveries were in February 2012 to business jet/VIP customers. Lufthansa was the first airline to receive the 747-8 in April 2012.

The main 747 variants and their first in-commercial service dates are as follows:

Aircraft Model Type First In Service
747-100 Passenger 1970
747-200 Passenger 1971
747-300 Passenger 1983
747-400 Passenger 1989
747-8I Passenger 2012
747-8F Freighter 2011


Let’s take a look at some key physical characteristics and see how the passenger versions of these two aircraft measure up against each other. Let’s start with the 747:

Aircraft Model Length/ m Wingspan/ m Fuselage Width/ m MTOW/ tonnes
747-SP 56.3 59.6 6.5 315.7
747-100 70.7 340.2
747-200 377.8
747-300 377.8
747-400 64.4 412.8
747-8 76.3 68.4 447.7

The FAA classifies aircraft by size based on wingspan into one of six categories (I to VI).

Until the development of the 747-8, the 747 was FAA V for aircraft with wingspans ranging from 52m up to 65m. The 747-8, with its 68.4m wingspan, has been moved into the larger FAA VI category (the same category as the A380) for aircraft with wingspans between 65m and up to 80m.

The 767 variants fall into FAA Airplane Design (ADG) Group IV with wingspans between 36m and 52m:

Aircraft Model Length/ m Wingspan/ m Fuselage Width/ m MTOW/ tonnes
767-200 48.51 47.57 5.03 142.9
767-200ER 179.2
767-300 54.94 158.8
767-300ER 186.9
767-400ER 61.37 51.92 204.1

Boeing 767-400


The ranges of the 767 variants are shown in the table below:

Aircraft Model Range
767-200 3,900nm (7,200km)
767-200ER 6,590nm (12,200km)
767-300 3,900nm (7,200km)
767-300ER 5,980nm (11,0870km)
767-400ER 5,625nm (10,415km)
767-300F 3,255nm (6,030km)

Whilst the 767 was originally targeted at hub and point-to-point carriers operating short- to mid-range transcontinental routes, its later 180-minute ETOPS certifications allowed it to operate intercontinental routes, including transatlantic routes, boosting sales.

The evolution of the 747 has generally seen increases in range as each variant has been rolled out. Ranges approaching 8,000nm, as seen in the more recent variants of these aircraft, allow an increasing number of new ultra-long-haul city pairs to be connected.

The B747-8I range is 7,730nmi (14,320km), similar to the 787-9. The 747-8I range theoretically allows this aircraft to fly non-stop long-distance routes such as London – Santiago, London – Jakarta, New York – Cape Town, Beijing – New York, Singapore – Seattle, and Dubai – Sydney.

Aircraft Model Range
747-SP 5,830nm (10,800km)
747-100 4,620nm (8,560km)
747-200 5,600nm (10,370km)
747-300 6,330nm (11,720km)
747-400 7,260nm (13,450km)
747-400ER 7,670nm (14,205km)
747-8 7,730nm (14,310km)

Boeing 747-8

Seat Capacity

The 767’s official seat numbers from Boeing vary by variant and number of cabin classes. The 767-200 variants range from 174 (3-class) to 245 seats (1-class), the 767-300 variants range from 210 to 290 seats, and the 767-400 variants range from 243 to 409 seats.

In practice, actual seat numbers vary significantly by airline and depend on their seating standards, number of classes, and whether premium classes are fitted-out with lie-flat seats. Based on my research I conclude that 767-200 and -300 variants with two-class cabins typically have around 230 seats.

The twin-aisle 767 typically has seven seats abreast in economy class (2-3-2), six or seven seats abreast in premium economy class (2-2-2, 2-3-2), and four to six seats abreast in business class (1–⁠2–⁠1, 2-1-2, 2-2-2).

The larger 747 has a much higher seating capacity than the 767. For this comparison, I have looked into the 747-8I. Boeing indicates that the 747-8I’s three-class seating capacity is 410 passengers. I investigated three current 747-8I operators and found the following:

  • Air China: 4 classes with a total of 365 seats (12 first, 54 business, 66 premium economy, 233 economy)
  • Korean Air: 3 classes with a total of 368 seats (6, 48, 0, 314)
  • Lufthansa: 4 classes with a total of 364 seats (8, 80, 32, 244)

All current 747-8I operators with a first-class cabin have located that cabin on the main deck. The upper deck is always used for business-class seating and the seating configuration is single aisle 2-2. Where business class is also located on the full-width part of the main deck the seating configuration is twin-aisle 2-2-2. Air China’s main deck business class cabin extends into the aircraft nose where the seating configuration becomes 2-2.

Air China’s premium economy cabin on the main deck adopts a ten-abreast seating configuration 3-4-3, the same as its economy cabin, although the seat pitch is more generous in the premium economy cabin. Lufthansa’s premium economy cabin features eight-abreast seating (2-4-2) whilst the economy cabin has ten-abreast seating (3-4-3).

Customers and Orders

767 deliveries to the end of June 2023 totaled 1,280 aircraft and, of these, the split between the various 767 variants is as follows:

  • 767-2C: 73
  • 767-200: 128
  • 767-200ER: 121
  • 767-300: 104
  • 767-300ER: 583
  • 767-300F: 233
  • 767-400ER: 38

The 767-300ER accounts for 46% of all 767 deliveries. At the end of June 2023, Boeing had 112 unfulfilled orders for the 767, 47 of which were for the 767-300F and 65 for the 767-2C.

The last order for a 767 passenger jet variant was placed in 2012, and in 2014 Boeing dropped the 767-400ER and the 767-200ER from its pricing list. Since 2012 the only 767 orders received by Boeing have been for the 767-2C and the 767-300F, and orders keep coming in for these variants, albeit in relatively modest numbers.

Boeing 767-300

The 747 is no longer in production but during its long production run over more than five decades, Boeing delivered 1,573 747s. The most popular 747 series has been the 747-400s, of which there were 694 deliveries, including, passenger, combi, and freight versions, or 44% of the total 747 deliveries.

Approximately two-thirds of 747 orders have been for passenger versions and one-third for freighter and combi versions.

The top 747 customer was Japan Airlines which received a total of 108 aircraft, followed by British Airways which received 94 aircraft, and Singapore Airlines with 93 747s. United Airlines was the top US 747 customer with 68 deliveries.

Boeing 747-200

767 vs. 747: Summary

So, are the 767 and 747 similar? Not really. Whilst they are both widebody aircraft the quad-engine 747 is a larger and heavier aircraft compared to the twin-engine 767. In general, the 747 variants also have longer ranges than the 767 variants. For example, the 767-400ER’s range of around 10,400km compares to around 14,200km for the 747-400ER.

With the 747 no longer in production, and with 767 production now restricted only to freighters and tankers, delivery numbers make for a relatively simple comparison. The 767 and 747 numbers are quite similar – almost 1,600 747s were delivered, compared to almost 1,400 deliveries (plus some remaining unfulfilled orders for freighters and tankers) for the 767.

Whilst 747s and 767s remain in service today with some airlines, it’s fair to say that both have had their heydays and have become superseded by more technologically advanced or more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the 787 and A350.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How Can I Help You?