Saturday, December 27, 2014

CQ Plane Spotting Historic Spot - The Retirement from Service of Qantas Boeing B767 Aircraft

A special early version of January's Historic Spot to coincide with the retirement from service of Qantas Airways Boeing B767 aircraft.  Saturday 27 December sees four of the remaining five B767-338(ER) widebody aircraft operate their final flights for Qantas, with VH-OGL given the honours of operating the final ever B767 flight - with the fitting flight number of QFA767 from Melbourne (Tullamarine) to Sydney.

I recently captured VH-OGM and VH-OGT in Sydney.  VH-OGL, VH-OGM, VH-OGO and VH-OGU will also finish flying on Saturday.

For around 20 years, Qantas has operated as many as 47 B767s - both the -300 model and the shorter -200 model.  The seven B767-200s were retired from Qantas service during the mid-2000s.

Over the last couple of years, the -300s have slowly been retired, and replaced by Airbus A330-200 and A330-300 aircraft on both domestic and international services.

Qantas received their first B767-338(ER) - VH-OGA - in the late-1980s having successfully operated the B767-238(ER) version since the mid-1980s.  VH-OGA was powered by a pair of General Electric CF6-80C2B6 engines.

VH-OGA in Sydney in 2009  (Peter McNally /

Over the years, Qantas operated as many as 40 B767-300s, including many leased aircraft that also flew for the airline during the last few years.  Qantas also plainted some of the B767-300 aircraft into special promotional liveries, as well as sending five aircraft to operate for their foray into the low-cost Asian travel market via Australian Airlines (Mark II).

VH-OGA spent a period of time in the early 1990s operating to Taipei for a Qantas off-shoot known as Australia Asia Airlines.

In the year 2000, Qantas leased seven B767-336(ER) aircraft from British Airways.  VH-ZXA-G joined the Qantas fleet with the major difference being these aircraft were powered by Rolls Royce RB211-524H engines.

VH-ZXA at Brisbane in 2011

Also, during the early 2000s, and following the demise of Ansett Australia, Qantas leased B767-300s VH-BZI and VH-NOA and operated these aircraft in an all-white colour scheme with small titles as shown.

VH-BZI at Birsbane in 2002

VH-NOA at Sydney in 2002

In the 2002, five B767-300s were re-painted and re-configured to commence flying for Qantas' attempt to tap into the low-cost overseas travel market with Australian Airlines (Mark II) starting services predominately out of Cairns and the Gold Coast to a variety of Asian destinations.  VH-OGI, VH-OGJ, VH-OGK, VH-OGL and VH-OGV flew with Australian Airlines until the airline was folded in 2006.

VH-OGL at Cairns in 2005

VH-OGK at Sydney in 2006

In 2006 and 2007, B767-300s VH-ZXB and then VH-OGL were rolled out in attractive liveries highlighting Qantas' support of the 'Socceroos' - the Australian mens Soccer (Football) team - and the 'Wallabies' - the Australian mens Rugby Union team - as they competed on their respective World Cups.

One other notable livery to be applied to a B767-300 was on VH-OGG which, in 2013, was rolled out in Sydney in a special livery to promote the Disney movie 'Planes'.  It then operated a special 'Première Planes Flight' on September 14, 2013.

Of interest, VH-OGG wore the name 'City of Rockhampton', and a couple of the other B767-300s wore names depicting Central Queensland towns.  In CQ, we didn't see too many of the B767-300s except for busy tourist times on Hamilton Island, and in 2011, when VH-OGN was spotted calling late on night on a troop charter flight during Exercise Talisman Sabre.

From 2011, the Qantas fleet of B767-300 aircraft has slowly been decreasing, with many aircraft sold for freighter conversion - some are still currently active with freight carriers around the world - while others have been scrapped in America.  Some others remain stored overseas, while there are currently three examples stored in Alice Springs at the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) facility.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that one other Qantas B767-300 will remain in Australian skies for the time being with Qantas Freight (Express Freighters Australia) continuning to operate B767-381(F) VH-EFR on freight runs between Australia and New Zealand and Asia.

The B767-300 was a true workhorse for Qantas both domestically and internationally, and will be missed by passengers and enthusiasts alike.

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