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A 33-Year-Old United Airlines Boeing 767 Which Everyone Thought Would Be Scrapped After Sustaining Major Damage is Returning to the Skies

A 33-Year-Old United Airlines Boeing 767 Which Everyone Thought Would Be Scrapped After Sustaining Major Damage is Returning to the Skies

a plane taking off from a runway

A 33-year-old United Airlines Boeing 767, which many people thought was destined for the scrapper’s yard when it sustained major damage after a hard landing, has, in fact, spent the last seven months being repaired and will soon return to the skies carrying passengers.

The aircraft in question is a Boeing 767-322, which was delivered new to United Airlines in 1991. United plans to eventually replace its fleet of ageing 767s with brand-new Airbus A321XLR aircraft, but these new planes aren’t expected to start joining United’s fleet until 2025 at the earliest.

The plane many of you said would never fly again..
byu/GroupBQuattr0 inunitedairlines

The 767 and the A321XLR that will replace it have a unique role in United’s fleet, primarily serving ‘long and thin’ routes so that might go some way to explain why United decided it was worth spending a significant amount of time and money to repair such an old aircraft.

The aircraft (registration N641UA) was damaged after an otherwise routine flight from Newark to Houston Intercontinental Airport on July 29, 2023. As the aircraft landed, the nose wheel made contact with the runway with an “abnormal force”, according to an NTSB preliminary report.

That force was so abnormal that the nose wheel touched down with a gravitational force equivalent to about 1.4g. A routine post-flight inspection revealed that the crown of the upper fuselage had sustained substantial damage, with wrinkles and tears clearly visible.

This kind of repair isn’t impossible, but a decision has to be made as to whether the investment is worth it.

Many observers believed United had written this aircraft off, but in actual fact, it has been repaired in situ at Houston Intercontinental over the last seven months. Earlier this month, the aircraft was then flown to Wilmington, where it underwent a series of test flights before being flown to Lake Charles for a new paint job.

At some point in the near future, the aircraft is expected to rejoin the United fleet for commercial flights.

While this type of repair job is unusual, it’s not unheard of. In 2019, a Delta Air Line Boeing 757 sustained similar damage after a hard landing in the Azores. Delta decided to have the aircraft repaired rather than scrapping it and in that case, the plane was back in service in just four months.

View Comment (1)
  • I am surprised tney did not convert it to cargo which involves a large panel in exactly that location. I’m sure the repair is fine, but it will never trim out right. Happy landings.

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