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February 14, 2015

Last Ride on the Seven Six Two: US Airways Retires the Boeing 767

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Written by: Justin Cederholm
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Another chapter in the long history of US Airways was closed this past Thursday as they operated the final flight of their Boeing 767-200/ER.  N252AU,  which originally joined the USAir fleet in May 1990 as N652US, would be the aircraft to do the honor for today’s final flight.   The morning started at Philadelphia’s gate A18 with flowers adorning the gate area and a table full of fresh fruit, drinks and pastries for guests on this special flight. Flight 767 departed Philadelphia (PHL) bound for Charlotte (CLT) at 9 a.m. with a full load of passengers and a dozen or so aviation enthusiasts looking to be a part of this final flight.  The short uneventful hop down to Charlotte was greeted with a water canon salute from Charlotte’s Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) team.

Inside Charlotte gate D13 was decorated with balloons, a table draped with a ‘Happy Retirement’ table cloth and two retirement cakes for the Boeing 767.  The final crew posed for photos and cake was distributed.  Shortly thereafter boarding began for the final segment of Flight 767 back to PHL.  At least two dozen enthusiasts and employees were on board this final fight which had roughly 100 open seats.  Flight 767 departed CLT at noon for the final hour-long flight back to its hub.  The light load of passengers allowed us to congregate in the aft coach cabin to reminisce on past flights on the 767 and discuss new aircraft joining the fleet of the “new” American Airlines.  Before landing the pilot gave a speech on the history of the 767, its significance in the industry and its history within the airline.

Upon landing in PHL, last photos were taken, goodbye’s were said and safety cards were swiped as a souvenir of the occasion. Upon exiting the aircraft to our surprise-and to the dismay to some- we found out that N252AU would step in for a broken 757 operating another turnaround to CLT. Ultimately the old girl would operate Flight 717 to CLT and come back as Flight 1798 thus officially ending it’s nearly 25 year career with US Airways.

Construction of the prototype Boeing 767, a -200 variant, began on July 6, 1979 and made its first flight on September 26, 1981. Boeing has manufactured 1,062 Boeing 767s, including 109 of he -200’s and 136 -200/ER’s. This retirement marks the last scheduled Boeing 767-200/ER in the United States.  Six of these aircraft were delivered to Piedmont before their merger with US Airways in 1989, with the remaining 6 being elivered to US Airways.  The 767 enabled Piedmont to start transatlantic flights, and with the delivery of it’s first widebody twin -N603P Boeing 767-201/ER  named ‘Pride of Piedmont’ – the airline commenced nonstop between Charlotte and London (Gatwick) on June 15th 1987.  Just like any new plane it was the most modern and efficient in its heyday.  The 767 would continue to operate transatlantic flights from the eastern US for USAir over the next 25 years before ultimately being replaced by the Airbus A330-300.


(All photos courtesy of the author).


Justin Cederholm is an aviation enthusiast and photographer based in Orlando, FL.

About the Author

Justin Cederholm


Northern Pacific Boeing 757 with black and white livery on fuselage and tail, aurora borealis inspired splash of color on winglets, and similarly colored N on the tail.

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  • felix

    Why is that we start liking a plane when it retires?

    • Haha. I think that part of it is because of the nostalgia and appreciation for the history of a particular type. The same way that you may take a person in your life for granted, but upon their passing, you recall the good memories, and wish you could have spent more time time with them.

      The 767 seemed so simple from the outside, but truly was a watershed aircraft; twin engine widebody, two crew, digital cockpit…all ground breakers.

      I myself have always loved it. I always felt the 767 looked plain and boring, but the -200’s short length made it look a bit stronger, leaner. I will miss this one a lot. The -300, only 21ft longer….eh, I don’t care as much. -PD

  • Ben Soriano

    Thank you for the nice footage. I enjoyed reading the article and
    watching the videos, more particularly listening to the interesting
    speech from the pilot on flight 767 from CLT to PHL. I personally regret
    I wasn’t able to be on this last flight but I certainly enjoy following
    from home all the events regarding the 767 retirement.
    I have never
    flown on a Piedmont or US Air/Airways 767 but I have flown on countless
    767-200 Series aircraft with American Airlines from the late 80s when
    it was new up until the early 2000s when the 200ER at American was
    pulled out of TATL flights and replaced by its younger brother the
    300ER. But I have taken a few domestic trips since then on the 200ER
    including JFK-LAX on my way to Hawaii back in 2006. My last flight on a
    200 series was about three years ago when American was still flying the
    type on the highly dense MIA-JFK route. I was seated in the C Cabin of
    the aircraft though I has purchased a Y Class ticket with my miles. What
    a comfy ride. Though physically configured in a three-class layout,
    that flight used to be sold as two-class between MIA and JFK. Although
    I, like many of us, will miss the 767-200, I am certainly looking
    forward to eventually try the new Airbus A321 American flies on trans
    continental routes out of JFK. Thanks again for sharing with us this
    unforgettable moment in the history of US civil aviation.
    If you
    wish to contact me for further feedback you welcome to email me at
    [email protected] or find me on Facebook. I’m also an active crew
    member on airliners.net, my user name is American 767.

    Best regards and happy flying to all.

    Ben Soriano
    New York, New York

  • Jack Vogt

    I’m just curious why y’all attend the retirement of aircraft only on legacy airlines. The Delta DC-9 and this aircraft but not the last flight on AirTran or things like that. I love what y’all do. Keep it up. -Jack

    • We don’t only attend those of legacy carriers. We look at all of them and address them on a case by case basis.

      We did attempt to fly the AirTran one, but had staffing issues due to the city pairs involved, partially due to the holiday season.

  • Monte

    Sad to see these go, but they served them well for 20 something years! I remember seeing it years ago as Piedmont parked at the end of terminal 1 at LAX. When I saw it I was like what is that big plane doing there amongst the 737’s, 727’s and MD-80’s at the time at that terminal. I too like the 762 more than any other variant!