The 767 and 777 are both twin-engine, twin-aisle widebodies. The 767 first went into service in 1982, and the 777 followed later in 1995.
Passenger variants of the 767 are no longer in production and the numbers in passenger airline fleets are dwindling. However, the 767 freighter and tanker are still available. The 767 has become a successful freighter with many being operated today by large cargo airlines such as FedEx and UPS. The 777 has been around for more than 25 years and has continually evolved through a large number of variants, and is still in production, although most of the older 777 variants are no longer available.
In this article, I’ll compare these two aircraft from a number of different perspectives, so, let’s see how these two long-haul, widebody aircraft fare against each other in terms of key attributes such as size, seating capacity, range, and orders.
The 767 was the first Boeing wide-body aircraft to be designed for two flight crew members.
The first 767 orders were placed in 1978 and the passenger versions of the 767 are no longer in production, with the last 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.
The 767 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. 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 entry in the service dates are as follows:
|Aircraft Model||Type||First In Service|
The first 777 variant, the 777-200, was launched in 1989 to fill the gap in Boeing’s product catalog between the 747 and the 767. The first 777-200 delivery took place in 1995 and was followed by an increased weight and range variant – the 777-200ER – which entered service in 1997. ETOPS (180 minutes) approval for the 777 came in 1995 with the entry into service of the 777-200.
After the 777-200, Boeing developed a stretched 777. With a length of almost 74m, the 777-300 became the longest airliner ever produced until it was eventually superseded by the A340-600. The 777-300 delivered 20% more capacity compared to the 777-200, and entered commercial service in 1998.
In 2000, Boeing launched its next-generation twinjet program. The first model to emerge from the program, the 777-300ER went into service in 2004 and went on to become a hugely successful product, combining the capacity of the 777-300 with the 777-200ER’s range. Another long-range model, the 777-200LR, went into airline service in 2006.
The 777F went into service in 2009 and was based on the structural design and engine specifications of the 777-200LR, and fuel tanks that were derived from the 777-300ER.
In 2013 Boeing formally launched the 777X (777-8, 777-8F and 777-9). The 777-9 will be a stretched, higher-capacity version of the 777-8 with a slightly lower range. Both models are to be equipped with new generation GE9X engines and feature new composite wings with folding wingtips. At 76.72m long, the 777-9 will become the world’s longest airliner, topping the 76.25m long 747-8 currently holding the record.
The 777X is still going through the certification process and delivery of these latest 777 aircraft has been delayed a number of times. Boeing is now estimating 2025 for the first 777-9 delivery.
The main 777 variants are listed below:
|Aircraft Model||Type||First In Service|
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.
The 767 variants fall into FAA Airplane Design (ADG) Group IV. Most of the 777 variants fall into the larger FAA ADG Group V. However, the newer 777X variants fall into the even bigger Group VI when its wings are unfolded. However, with folded wings, these aircraft will fall into Group V making it easier to taxi around airports.
|Aircraft Model||Length/ m||Wingspan/ m||Fuselage Width/ m||MTOW/ tonnes|
|777-200/ 200ER||63.73||60.93||5.86||247.2 – 297.6|
|777-8||69.79||72.80/ 64.85 (folded)||5.96||351.5|
In broad terms, the 777 is a longer aircraft than the 767 with lengths ranging from around 64m to 74m, compared to 48m to 61m for the 767. The 777 also has a longer wingspan, wider fuselage, and higher MTOWs.
The ranges of the 777 and 767 variants are shown in the table below:
|777-200LR||8,555 nm (15,843 km)|
|777-300ER||7,370 nm (13,649 km)|
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 767 ER variants have ranges of around 10,000 – 12,000km which fall short of the ranges achieved by the 777 ER variants, and well below the impressive expected 16,000km range of the 777-8.
The 777 was designed to bridge the gap between Boeing’s other widebody aircraft – the 767 and the 747, and also to replace older aircraft such as DC-10s and L-1011s. Therefore, the ability to fly long-haul was an important design factor. The 777-200LR and the 777-30ER (and the 777-8, and the 777-9) have impressive ranges enabling the 777 to serve some of the world’s longest commercial air routes.
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.
Delta Airlines is one of the select number of airlines currently operating 767s (300 and 400 variants) with three cabin classes (First or Business, Premium Economy, and Economy). Average seat numbers are 218 for Delta’s 767-300s and 767-300ERs, and 242 seats for Delta’s 767-400ERs.
Delta Airlines also operates a 4-class 767-300ER with 26 first-class seats, 18 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 151 economy class seats (total of 216 seats).
The twin-aisle 767 typically has seven or eight seats abreast in economy class (2-3-2, 2-4-2), 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). In economy class, seven seats abreast (2-3-2) is the most common layout and this layout places approximately 87% of all seats at a window or aisle.
I researched actual seating plans for carriers with large 777 fleets such as Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, American Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines to find typical seat numbers for two, three, and four-class cabin configurations:
- American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines operate 777-200ERs and 777-300ERs with four-class seating layouts carrying between 234 and 283 passengers.
- Air New Zealand, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and United Airlines operate 777-200s, 777-200ERs, 777-LRs, 777-300s, and 777-300ERs with three-class seating layouts carrying between 309 and 350 passengers.
- Cathay Pacific, Emirates, and Qatar Airways operate 777-200LRs, 777-300s, and 777-300ERs with two-class seating layouts carrying between 283 and 398 passengers.
Boeing data shows that the 777 variants can carry between 317 and 426 passengers in typical two-class seating configurations.
The twin-aisle 777 typically has three to four seats abreast in first-class cabins, four to six seats in business class (with eight seats abreast in British Airways’ older ‘opposing seat’ layout), eight seats in premium economy, and nine or ten seats per row in economy class.
Customers and Orders
767 deliveries to the end of April 2023 totalled 1,273 aircraft and, of these, the split between the various 767 variants is as follows:
- 767-200: 128
- 767-200ER: 121
- 767-2C: 72
- 767-300: 104
- 767-300ER: 583
- 767-300F: 227
- 767-400ER: 38
To date, the 767-300ER accounts for 46% of all 767 deliveries. At the end of April 2023, Boeing had 117 unfulfilled orders for the 767, 53 of which were for the 767-300F and 64 for the 767-2C.
Adding deliveries and unfulfilled orders together, the 767-300ER is the most popular 767 variant with a total of 583 aircraft, representing 42% of all 767 deliveries and unfulfilled orders combined at the end of April 2023. Interestingly, the second most popular 767 variant is the 767-300F with a total of 290 deliveries and unfulfilled orders at the end of April 2023 (20% of all 767 deliveries and unfulfilled orders).
In total, the 767 deliveries and unfulfilled orders at the end of April 2023 were 1,390 aircraft (1,273 deliveries and 117 unfulfilled orders).
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.
The 767’s biggest passenger airline customer is United Airlines. However, the 767 has also been very popular with cargo airlines, and FedEx is actually the 767’s largest customer overall. UPS is also a very significant 767 customer.
Current passenger version operators of the 767 include Air Astana, ANA, Austrian Airlines, Delta Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Icelandair, JAL, LATAM Airlines, and United Airlines.
By the end of April 2023, Boeing had delivered 1,706 777 aircraft with the split between the different variants as follows:
- 777-200: 88
- 777-200ER: 422
- 777-200LR: 61
- 777-300: 60
- 777-300ER: 832
- 777F: 243
To date, the 777-300ER accounts for 49% of all 777 deliveries.
As of the end of April 2023, there were 436 unfulfilled orders for the 777, as follows:
- 777-300ER: 6 aircraft.
- 777-X (777-8 and 777-9): 353 aircraft, with nearly two-thirds of these going to Middle-Eastern carriers. Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines are also significant 777-X customers.
- 777F: 77 aircraft.
Adding deliveries and unfulfilled orders together, the 777-300ER is the most popular 777 variant with a total of 838 aircraft, representing 39% of all 777 deliveries and unfulfilled orders combined at the end of April 2023. The second most popular 777 variant is the 777-200ER with a total of 422 deliveries and no unfulfilled orders at the end of April 2023 (20% of all 777 deliveries and unfulfilled orders).
In total, the 777 deliveries and unfulfilled orders at the end of April 2023 were 2,142 aircraft (1,706 deliveries and 436 unfulfilled orders). The 777’s biggest passenger airline customers by variant are as follows:
- 777-200: United Airlines
- 777-200ER: United Airlines
- 777-200LR: Emirates and Delta Airlines
- 777-300: Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines
- 777-300ER: Emirates
- 777F: FedEx
- 777X: Emirates
The 777 remains a very popular aircraft and features in the fleets of major airlines around the world including Air France, American Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, EVA Air, Etihad, Emirates, JAL, KLM, Qatar Airways, Swiss, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines.
767 vs. 777: Summary
The 777 and 767 are similar aircraft in that they are both twinjets and are twin-aisle widebodies. Both aircraft have benefited commercially from ETOPS certification allowing airlines to deploy these twinjets on intercontinental routes not previously possible.
The 767 is still in production, but only as a tanker and as a freighter. The last 767-passenger variant order was placed in 2012. In contrast, the 777 is in full production with a large order backlog for its new 777X, and the 777F.
The 777 is a more commercially successful aircraft than the 767 with total deliveries plus unfulfilled orders of around 2,140 aircraft compared to 1,400 for the 767. With the ongoing 777X program, 777 orders are likely to increase further.
Whilst some passenger airlines still deploy the 767, its numbers are starting to dwindle. The number of 777s in airline fleets remains significant and the 777X will extend the popularity of this very successful and continually evolving aircraft.