Tag Archives: US Airways

Jay Selman’s An Inside Look: Another End of an Era

Assistant Editor Jay Selman

Assistant Editor Jay Selman

Another End of an Era – Farewell to the Boeing 767

by Assistant Editor Jay Selman

February 12, 2015 marked another end of an era at US Airways, as the company retired its last Boeing 767-200. While the airline was quick to point out that its merger partner, American Airlines, operates nearly 60 of the larger 767-300s, the final flight of the 767-200 represented the end of an era for US Airways. Following the general success of flight US 737, marking the retirement of the company’s last 737 Classic in August 2014, US Airways repeated the act with flight US 767, which operated from Philadelphia to Charlotte, and back to PHL.

The 767 entered the US Airways inventory through the merger with Piedmont Airlines in 1989. Piedmont received its first Boeing 767 on May 21st, 1987, shortly after the merger with USAir was announced. N603P was used to inaugurate the carrier’s first intercontinental service, between Charlotte North Carolina and London’s Gatwick Airport. Piedmont ordered six of the type initially, and after merging with USAir, another six were added to the fleet. Eventually, the 767s were used by US Airways in virtually all of its intercontinental markets. The 767 had the range to fly from Charlotte to Rome, Sao Paulo, and even Honolulu. Its common type rating with the 757 allowed the company to better utilize its pilots.

The Boeing 767 first went into service in 1982. It was the manufacturer’s first wide-body twin engine aircraft and was ground-breaking in several aspects. The 767 was the first Boeing wide-body to be designed with a two-crew digital glass cockpit. Cathode ray tube (CRT) color displays and new electronics replaced the role of the flight engineer by enabling the pilot and co-pilot to monitor aircraft systems directly. (A three-crew cockpit remained as an option and was fitted to the first production models. Ansett Australia ordered 767s with three-crew cockpits due to union demands; it was the only airline to operate 767s so configured.) Development of the 767 occurred in tandem with a narrow-body twinjet, the 757, resulting in shared design features which allow pilots to obtain a common type rating to operate both aircraft.

The 767 was initially flown on domestic and transcontinental routes, during which it demonstrated the reliability of its twinjet design. In 1985, the 767 became the first twin-engine airliner to receive regulatory approval for extended overwater flights. The aircraft was then used to expand non-stop service on medium- to long-haul intercontinental routes. Today, thanks to the concept proven by the ground-breaking 767, over 90% of the intercontinental airline flights are operated by twin engine aircraft flown by a two-pilot crew.

US flight US 767 PHL-CLT with Jay Selman (LRW)

Above Photo: Assistant Editor Jay Selman prepares to depart on flight 767 on February 12 from Philadelphia bound for Charlotte.

US Airways flight 767 PHL departure (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. The morning departure of flight 767 from Philadelphia.

There was a low-keyed celebration at the gate in PHL prior to departure of US 767. Breakfast pastries were served and the gate agent boarding the flight made a short announcement explaining the significance of flight 767. We pushed back from gate A18 in PHL at 8:55 am, five minutes early (below).

US Airways 767-200 at gate A18 PHL (JS)(LRW)

US Airways flight US 767 Capt Scott Lesh (JS)(LRW)

 

At the controls were PHL-based Captain Scott Lesh (above) and First Officer John Hyde (below).

US Airways 767-200 flight 767 Capt Scott Lesh and FO John Hyde in cockpit (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. Captain Scott Lesh and First Officer John Hyde in the cockpit of N252AU for the final day of revenue flights.

Flying “shotgun” in the flight deck jump seat was First Officer Jim Zazas (below). Jim and I go back a long way, and he is one of those guys we call an “Aviator” with a Capital A. He was in the second 767 class with Piedmont in 1987, and has been on the 757/767 ever since. In his spare time, he flies just about anything with a propeller, especially if it has the classification “Warbird.” From B-17 to P-51, Jim has probably flown it. His latest accomplishment was to get himself checked out in The Tinker Belle, the C-46 based in Monroe, NC. For Jim, this was a farewell to his favorite jet airliner.

US Airways FO Jim Zazas PHL (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. US Airways First Officer Jim Zazas.

I found it interesting that the flight was basically an extra section, added to the flight schedule approximately one month earlier, yet we departed PHL with every single seat filled. There were a significant number of aviation enthusiasts on board, but for the majority of the passengers, this was merely one more flight from Point A to Point B.

The flight was operated by N252AU, a 767-2B7 ER, msn 24765. 252 was originally delivered to USAir as N652US on May 25, 1990. It was the 308th production 767. From November 1993 until April of 1996, this aircraft was used on a wet lease program on behalf of British Airways, and flew in the British carrier’s colors during that time. Following the merger between US Airways and America West Airlines, the aircraft received its current registration.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/119629568″>US Airways Boeing 767-200 N252AU departure from PHL on the last day</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user19954503″>Bruce Drum</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Video: Jay Selman. The departure of N252AU from Philadelphia on the last day.

US Airways 767-200 N252AU arrival at CLT last day (JS)(LRW)

Our flight to Charlotte was uneventful, and following a well-deserved water cannon salute (above), we arrived at Gate D2 a little past 10:44 am. There, the company presented two cakes, decorated in blue and white, commemorating the retirement of the 767-200 (below).

US Airways 767-200 last flight cake (JS)(LRW)

 

US Airways 767-200 last flight US 767 CLT crew (best)(JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. The crew of flight 767 poses with the two special cakes at the Charlotte turnaround.

During the nearly two-hour turnaround, I had a chance to chat with the lead Flight Attendant, Ellie Zalesky. Ellie told me that she began her career with Mohawk. “I’ve worked every airplane from the FH-227 to the A330, and the 767 was my favorite, hands down. I’m really going to miss her.” We had a chance to snap some souvenir photos prior to the final scheduled flight, and then it was time to head back to PHL.

US Airways 767-200 N252AU and crew on ramp CLT (best)(JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: The crew of flight US 767 poses with Boeing 767-2B7 ER N252AU on the ramp at Charlotte during the turnaround.

The return flight of US 767 pushed away from the gate in Charlotte at 12:27. It was markedly different from the first leg. The plane was less than 1/3 full, and this time, the majority of the passengers were hard-core enthusiasts and airline employees, much to the curiosity of the few “regular passengers” on board. There was a party atmosphere in flight, as we took time to enjoy the final flight of the 767-200. The flight attendants were surprised by the “enthusiast culture”, but quickly warmed to the occasion. Captain Lesh made a long announcement regarding the last flight of the 767-200, and its significance to US Airways, and commercial aviation.

US Airways 767-200 N262AU cabin (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. The cabin of N252AU.

I also had a chance to talk to another old friend, Bruce Clarke, who retired as a Captain on the 757/767. Of the 767, Bruce waxed poetic, “I don’t think that Boeing has ever built a sweeter airliner. She never put me into a situation that I could not easily get out of. With a service ceiling of 41,000 ft, we could get above a lot of weather…and other traffic.” (Shortly before he mentioned that, I looked out the window and noticed a CRJ900 cruising a few thousand feet below us). Clarke continues, “The CF6 engines put out plenty of power so even at max takeoff weight of 395,000 lbs, the 767-200 ER climbs effortlessly. The 767 has inboard and outboard ailerons, which gives her incredible agility. She is a very stable platform and cuts through turbulence like a knife through soft butter. I’ve flown the 707, 727. 737, 757, and 767, and the 767 was by far my favorite.” Clearly, everyone I spoke with who had flown or worked the 767 loves her.

US Airways welcome to Philadelphia (JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: Jay Selman. Back at PHL once again.

We arrived back at the gate in PHL at 13:46, about 20 minutes early. Most of us were in no rush to deplane. Instead, we lingered for just another few minutes, savoring what will probably, for most of us, be our last moments on a 767-200. After all, as US Airways removes its last 767 from the fleet, its merger partner, American Airlines, prepares to introduce the 787 into service.

The crew patiently stayed onboard to pose for final photos, answer final questions, and perhaps absorb those last few moments on the aircraft they love.

When Captain Lesh shut down the CF6s, N252AU had logged 100,813.48 hours, and amassed 18663 cycles, relatively few for today’s jet airliners. The airframe has plenty of life left in her, and, while nothing has been officially announced, there is an excellent chance that the 767 will be “re-purposed” in the near future.

As a postscript, a Boeing 757 scheduled to operate a round trip from Philadelphia to Charlotte later in the day developed a mechanical issue, and 252’s retirement was postponed for another few hours. The final round trip, however, was done with none of the hoopla reserved for flight US 767. As far as we were concerned, we were on THE retirement flight.

Piedmont (2nd) logo

 

As one more side note, when sister ships 249 and 250 were officially retired from the US Airways fleet, they represented the last airplanes that flew for Piedmont Airlines. As an original “Piedmonter”, this fact was as significant to me as the retirement of the 767-200.

Jay Selman with 252 (nose)(JS)(LRW)

Above Photo: What will be the fate of ship “252”?

US Airways aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

USAir aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

Piedmont Airlines (1st) aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

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US Airways operates its last Boeing 767 revenue flight

US Airways (Phoenix) as planned, operated its last Boeing 767-200 revenue flight and retired the type yesterday joining partner American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) in retiring the aging type.

American previously retired their 767-200s on May 7, 2014 between Los Angeles and New York (JFK). American’s Boeing 767-223 ER N319AA (msn 22320) operated flight AA 30 from Los Angeles to New York (JFK) departing LAX on the evening of May 7 and arriving at JFK during the early morning of May 8. American introduced the 767-200 in November 1982.

US Airways yesterday (February 12) operated its last passenger flight for the Boeing 767.

Assistant Editor Jay Selman was on the historic flight and has published his special report on the last trip.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Piedmont Airlines (1st) took delivery of the first 767-200 ER, specifically 767-201 ER N603P (msn 23897), named “The Pride of Piedmont”, on May 21, 1987. The type entered service on June 15, 1987 on the Charlotte – London (Gatwick) route. The type migrated to USAir (later US Airways) with the merger.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 767-2B7 ER N252AU (msn 24765) is pictured at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) and operated the last revenue flights.

US Airways aircraft slide show: AG Airline Slide Show

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US Airways flight 1825 with N953UW makes a nose wheel up landing at Houston

US Airways ERJ 190-100 N953UW (05)(nose wheel-up ldg) IAH (Carter Ozanus)(LR)

US Airways (Phoenix) flight US 1825 from Philadelphia (PHL) to Houston (IAH) (Bush Intercontinental) last night (February 9) operated with the pictured Embraer ERJ 190-100 IGW N953UW (msn 19000133) and carrying 53 passengers and four crew members on board made an emergency nose-wheel up landing at IAH. According to this report by KHOU, the crew made a successful landing with an inoperative nose wheel after several attempts in flight to correct the situation.

There were no reported injuries.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Twitter photo by Carter Ozanus.

American Airlines’ traffic declines in January, revises its guidance for the first quarter

American Airlines Group (American Airlines and US Airways) (Dallas/Fort Worth) today reported its January 2015 traffic results.

American Airlines Group’s total revenue passenger miles (RPMs) for the month were 16.8 billion, down 2.8 percent versus January 2014. Total capacity was 21.5 billion available seat miles (ASMs), down 0.2 percent versus January 2014. Total passenger load factor was 78.2 percent for the month of January, down 2.1 percentage points versus January 2014.

Based on one month of actual data and two months of forecast, the Company continues to expect its first quarter 2015 consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) to be down approximately two percent to four percent. Due to the recent rise in fuel prices, the Company is currently forecasting its first quarter fuel price to be approximately 10 cents higher than its previous guidance. The Company’s current estimate for first quarter fuel price is $1.81 to $1.86 per gallon versus its previous estimate of $1.71 to $1.76 per gallon. As a result, the Company now expects its first quarter pretax margin excluding special items to be approximately 12 percent to 14 percent versus its previous guidance of 13 percent to 15 percent.

Copyright Photo: Ton Jochems/AirlinersGallery.com. US Airways continues to repaint its fleet in the 2013 American Airlines livery as it moves toward a single operating Part 121 certificate. US Airways’ Boeing 757-23N N205UW (msn 30887) taxies at Amsterdam.

American Airlines-US Airways aircraft slide show (repainted aircraft only):

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The battle of amenity kits; American Airlines introduces heritage airline amenity kits

American Airlines Heritage Amenity Kits

American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) has unveiled its new 2015 version of its premium amenity kits for international flights. The airline issued this statement:

Starting this month, American Airlines will be upgrading the premium experience for its customers and paying tribute to the proud history of its employees around the world with all-new amenity kits for most international and transcontinental flights, featuring special, limited edition kits that honor nine airlines that laid the foundation for the new American. Every First Class and Business Class kit contains an improved collection of personal care products selected specifically for the modern traveler.

“We have more than 100,000 employees, each with their own unique story, and these retro amenity kits are a small tribute to the heritage of their careers and their legacy carriers,” said Fernand Fernandez, American’s vice president – Global Marketing. “Customers will also identify with the historic logos and colors of the companies that now form the fabric of the modern-day American Airlines. The all-natural, boutique toiletry products from red flower, a New York-based, eco-friendly beauty and lifestyle brand complete the experience.”

The new amenity kits represent the latest in $2 billion in investments as American continues “going for great” with fully lie-flat seats; international Wi-Fi; more in-flight entertainment options and power outlets; a new, modern design for Admirals Club lounges worldwide; and an upgraded assortment of complimentary healthy food, cocktails and more.

The heritage kits serve as a reminder of American’s beginnings and the many men and women who forged together to form the world’s largest airline. Each individual carrier brought with it thousands of employees and a proud history. The collectors’ items will revive the colors and logos of the following airlines, past and present:

American Airlines (historic logo)

PSA-Pacific Southwest Airlines

AirCal (Air California)

Reno Air

Allegheny Airlines

Trans World Airways (TWA)

America West Airlines

US Airways (USAir)

Piedmont Airlines

Customers can experience the retro-themed heritage amenity kits through January 2016 when they travel in international Business Class or transcontinental First Class. They are contained in a stylish, felt case inspired by designer bags, sized specifically to be re-used as a mini-tablet computer case. The legacy themes will debut in batches of three every four months.

American Airlines Heritage TWA Amenity Kit

Above: The TWA amenity kit.

While these kits play up American’s retro branding, the airline took a forward-looking approach to selecting the personal travel products contained inside. The heritage amenity kits in international Business Class contain fabric lining, a pair of socks and an eye mask styled with the colors of a specific airline, a toothbrush and toothpaste, Scope® mouthwash, covers for Bose® QuietComfort® Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headsets provided with each seat, earplugs, a pen, tissues and hand lotion, lip balm and wipes by red flower.

The heritage amenity kits in transcontinental First Class contain the fabric lining, socks and eye mask with airline branding, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, and the trio of red flower products.

International First Class customers will receive new, larger kits, containing a pair of plush socks and an eye mask, Scope® mouthwash as well as covers for Bose® QuietComfort® Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headsets, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, pen, tissues and the three red flower products in addition to red flower’s face lotion. Customers will also receive upgraded pajamas in a color-block pattern and non-skid, 100 percent cotton terry slippers.

In addition, for the first time, American is rolling out amenity kits in Business Class on its transcontinental service between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as Miami and Los Angeles. These kits contain a pair of socks and eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, and the trio of red flower products.

Photos: American Airlines.

AA Heritage timeline poster - FINAL - 24x36.pdf

Above: The American Airlines heritage family tree (American Airlines – photos supplied by AirlinersGallery.com):

American Airlines aircraft slide show (current livery):

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American Airlines Group reports a record 4Q GAAP net profit of $597 million and a 2014 GAAP net profit of $2.9 billion

American Airlines Group Inc. (American Airlines and US Airways) (Dallas/Fort Worth) reported its fourth quarter and full year 2014 results.

For the fourth quarter 2014, American Airlines Group reported a record GAAP net profit of $597 million. This compares to a GAAP net loss of $2.0 billion in the fourth quarter 2013, which includes the results for US Airways only for the period from the completion of the merger on December 9, 2013, through December 31, 2013.

For full year 2014, GAAP net profit was $2.9 billion, compared to a full year 2013 GAAP net loss of $1.8 billion for AMR Corporation, which includes the results for US Airways only for the period from the completion of the merger on December 9, 2013, through December 31, of 2013.

The Company believes it is more meaningful to compare year-over-year results for American Airlines and US Airways excluding special charges and on a combined basis, which is a non-GAAP formulation that combines the results for AMR Corporation and US Airways Group. On this basis, the Company’s fourth quarter 2014 net profit excluding net special charges was a record $1.1 billion, or $1.52 per diluted share. This represents a 153 percent improvement over the combined non-GAAP net profit of $436 million excluding net special charges for the same period in 2013. The Company’s fourth quarter 2014 pretax margin excluding net special charges was a record 10.6 percent.

Excluding net special charges, the Company’s 2014 net profit was a record $4.2 billion, or $5.70 per diluted share. This represents a 115 percent improvement over the Company’s combined 2013 non-GAAP net profit excluding net special charges of $1.9 billion.

“Our record 2014 results close out a fantastic first year for our merger. These results would not have been possible without the efforts of our more than 100,000 team members,” said Doug Parker, American Airlines Group Chairman and CEO. “They have done a great job of working together to take care of our customers and restore American as the greatest airline in the world.

“We have much to do in the year ahead as we continue to integrate two large carriers. The results we have achieved thus far, combined with our economic outlook, give us confidence that 2015 will be another outstanding year for American Airlines.”

Revenue and Cost Comparisons

Total revenue in the fourth quarter was a record $10.2 billion, an increase of 2.1 percent versus the fourth quarter 2013 on a combined basis and excluding special items, on a 1.7 percent increase in total available seat miles (ASMs). Consolidated passenger revenue per ASM (PRASM) was 13.50 cents, down 1.0 percent versus the fourth quarter 2013 on a combined basis. Consolidated passenger yield was a record 16.84 cents, up 0.9 percent year-over-year.

Strong demand throughout the year led to 2014 total revenue of $42.7 billion, up 5.6 percent versus 2013 on a combined basis and excluding special items. Full year consolidated PRASM was 13.97 cents, up 2.2 percent versus 2013 on a combined basis.

Total operating expenses in the fourth quarter were $9.3 billion, a decrease of 4.1 percent compared to combined fourth quarter 2013 due primarily to a 17.3 percent decrease in consolidated fuel expense. Fourth quarter mainline cost per available seat mile (CASM) was 13.32 cents, down 6.1 percent on a 1.5 percent increase in mainline ASMs versus combined fourth quarter 2013. Excluding special charges and fuel, mainline CASM was 8.67 cents, up 1.1 percent compared to the combined fourth quarter 2013. Regional CASM excluding special charges and fuel was 15.87 cents, up 0.9 percent on a 3.8 percent increase in regional ASMs versus combined fourth quarter 2013.

For the full year 2014, total operating expenses were $38.4 billion, up 1.5 percent versus combined 2013. Excluding special charges and fuel, mainline CASM increased 2.0 percent to 8.63 cents versus combined 2013. Regional CASM excluding special items and fuel increased 3.6 percent to 15.94 cents versus combined 2013.

Liquidity

At December 31, 2014, American had approximately $8.1 billion in total cash and short-term investments, of which $774 million was restricted. The Company also had an undrawn revolving credit facility of $1.8 billion.

Also in the fourth quarter, the Company returned $959 million to its shareholders through the payment of $72 million in quarterly dividends and the repurchase of $887 million of common stock, or 20.5 million shares. When combined with the $113 million of shares repurchased in the third quarter 2014, the Company repurchased a total of 23.4 million shares at an average price of $42.72 per share in 2014.The Company’s $1 billion share repurchase program announced in July 2014 is now complete – more than one year ahead of its scheduled expiration. The Company also purchased approximately 52,000 shares from its Disputed Claims Reserve at the prevailing market price to satisfy certain tax obligations resulting from the November 4, 2014, distribution.

As of December 31, 2014, approximately $656 million of the Company’s unrestricted cash and short-term investment balance was held in Venezuelan bolivars. This balance includes approximately $621 million valued at 6.3 bolivars and approximately $35 million valued at 12.0 bolivars, with the rate depending on the date the Company submitted its repatriation request to the Venezuelan government. These rates are materially more favorable than the exchange rates currently prevailing for other transactions conducted outside of the Venezuelan government’s currency exchange system. The Company’s cash balance held in Venezuelan bolivars decreased $65 million from the September 30, 2014 balance of $721 million. In the fourth quarter of 2014, the Company incurred an $11 million foreign currency loss related to the receipt of $23 million at a rate of 6.3 bolivars to the dollar for one of its 2012 repatriation requests originally valued at a rate of 4.3 bolivars to the dollar. Accordingly, the Company revalued its remaining pending 2012 repatriation requests from 4.3 to 6.3 bolivars to the dollar resulting in additional foreign currency losses of $19 million. In total, the Company recognized a $30 million special charge for these foreign currency losses in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The Company has significantly reduced capacity in this market. The Company is continuing to work with Venezuelan authorities regarding the timing and exchange rate applicable to the repatriation of funds held in local currency. The Company is monitoring this situation closely and continues to evaluate its holdings of Venezuelan bolivars for additional foreign currency losses, which could be material.

The Company also announced that its Board of Directors declared a dividend of $0.10 per share for shareholders of record as of February 9, 2015. The dividend will be paid on February 23, 2015. In addition, the Company announced that its Board also authorized an additional $2 billion share repurchase program to be completed by the end of 2016.

Shares repurchased under the program announced above may be made through a variety of methods, which may include open market purchases, privately negotiated transactions, block trades or accelerated share repurchase transactions. Any such repurchases will be made from time to time subject to market and economic conditions, applicable legal requirements and other relevant factors. The program does not obligate the Company to repurchase any specific number of shares or continue a dividend for any fixed period, and may be suspended at any time at management’s discretion.

In the fourth quarter, the Company recognized $507 million in net special charges, including:

$280 million in merger integration related expenses
$116 million in net charges for bankruptcy related items, principally consisting of fair value adjustments for bankruptcy settlement obligations
$70 million in charges related primarily to certain asset impairments
$31 million in non-operating special items primarily relating to a $30 million special charge for foreign currency losses relating to the Company’s cash balance held in Venezuelan bolivars
$16 million in net regional operating special items including a $24 million charge relating to a new pilot contract, partially offset by an $8 million gain on the sale of certain spare parts
$6 million in non-cash deferred income tax benefits relating to certain indefinite lived intangible assets

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 757-223 WL N185AN (msn 32379) approaches the runway at Miami International Airport (MIA).

American Airlines aircraft slide show (current livery):

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US Airways to operate a special farewell “flight 767″ from Philadelphia to Charlotte and return on February 12 as the last Boeing 767 flight

US Airways (Phoenix) as we previously reported, will operate the last regularly scheduled Boeing 767-200 ER revenue flight on February 11.

However the carrier (like it did with the last Boeing 737-400 flight) is now scheduling a special “farewell flight”. Flight US 767 will depart Philadelphia on February 12 at 9:00 am (0900) and arrive at Charlotte at 10:44 am (1044). Flight US 767 will turnaround after special celebrations and depart Charlotte at 12:30 pm and arrive back at Philadelphia at 2:05 pm (1405). This will be the last passenger flight for the Boeing 767 with US Airways.

Piedmont Airlines (1st) took delivery of the first 767-200 ER, specifically 767-201 ER N603P (msn 23897), named “The Pride of Piedmont”, on May 21, 1987. The type entered service on June 15, 1987 on the Charlotte – London (Gatwick) route. The type migrated to USAir (later US Airways) with the merger.

Copyright Photo: Jay Selman/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 76702B7 ER N256AY (msn 26847) departs from Charlotte.

US Airways aircraft slide show: