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FedEx and UPS Moving Ahead With MD-11 Retirement Plans

FedEx & UPS are beginning to retire their sizable MD-11 fleets, putting an end to the venerable trijet’s illustrious run through the air. The McDonnell Douglas MD-11 will eventually be phased out by the two major American air carriers, Federal Express (FedEx) and United Parcel Services (UPS). As a development of the Douglas DC-10 trijet, the MD-11 trijet has been in service for 33 years as of today, January 10, 1990.

All of these businesses, who operate as air cargo companies and all make use of the MD-11F type, include, but are not limited to, American Airlines, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa Cargo, and Swissair. Although there were five different versions of the MD-11, including a passenger version and a combi version, states that only the MD-11F freighter version is still in use today. Why do FedEx and UPS want to phase out the MD-11?

Even the MD-11F aircraft will soon vanish from the sky. The air freight carrier is modernizing, and the Boeing 777 and Boeing 767 bring the option for flexibility, as FedEx President and Chief Operational Officer Raj Subramaniam stated to Airways Magazine.

To replace the airline’s “flex fleet” of MD-11s with more effective aircraft, however, is a part of the strategy to “phase out our fleet of MD-11s.” In a statement he made during the company’s fiscal 2023 third quarter financial results call, Subramaniam was quoted in the March 20th issue of Aviation Week.

We have been able to create a fleet that is more nimble and versatile thanks to our ongoing fleet modernization effort. Thus, we have reached a crossroads; will we see a high-demand environment or a low-demand environment? That flex fleet included the MD-11. Also, we don’t see that high of a demand environment now that we look at it.

So, the FedEx fleet’s larger, older, and more fuel-hungry MD-11F aircraft are being retired.

The same choice is being made by UPS as well. Six MD-11s were retired, per a UPS statement concerning its fiscal year 2022 fourth-quarter earnings. Because to the diminished worth of the MD-11 fleet, there was a “non-cash charge” remaining. The worldwide freight market was the agency’s main area of concentration.

The president of UPS Airlines, Jim Joseph, provided FreightWaves with a statement that said in part, “Our MD-11s have served us well since we took receipt of the first aircraft in 2001. They were a stalwart on international routes and have recently focused their operations in the United States. Deliveries are scheduled to start later this year, and we will start replacing them with new, more efficient 767s.

Concerning the MD-11F

The trijet’s final and longest-running manufacturing version was the MD-11F, which is the last MD-11 variant still in use today. The MD-11Fs had a front port-side cargo door that measured 140 by 102 inches (3.6 m 2.6 m) and opened to a main-deck volume of 15,530 cubic feet when they first rolled off the assembly line (440 cubic meters). 26 pallets measuring 88 by 125 inches (2.2 m 3.2 m) or 96 by 125 inches (2.4 m 3.2 m) may be transported by the MD-11F, which can carry a cargo of up to 200,151 pounds (90,787 kg). Below is a picture of the cargo hold of an MD-11F:

A dated aircraft that did not need to fly as frequently as a passenger aircraft was highly cost-effective when obtained. The MD-11 may have been created at a time when airplanes with only two jet engines were not only robust but reliable and efficient enough to handle freight and passengers. Although the MD-11 wasn’t the best passenger plane, it can nevertheless function well as an air cargo

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