MIAMI – Lufthansa Cargo (LH) is set to retire its only remaining Boeing MD-11F next Monday after operating the trijet for more than two decades.

Since 1998, the airline has operated 19 MD-11Fs, most of which are still operating for other cargo airlines based in the US while the other remaining ones have been scrapped off.

With an average age of 23 years, the airline has been actively retiring the type. 2021 saw two of the last three already make their exit with the last one set to leave next week The first MD-11F joined LH cargo in 1998 to serve as the backbone for the cargo arm until the Boeing 777F came along and of course the pandemic.

The two MD-11’s that left the LH cargo fleet were D-ALCD (in May 2021) and D-ALCA (in June 2021, both welcomed by the American cargo airline Western Global Airlines (KD). The one and only remaining MD-11F is D-ALCC, which is also set to join KD.

Lufthansa Cargo D-ALCD McDonnell Douglas MD-11(F). Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

The MD-11F

The McDonnell Douglas MD-11 is a wide-body airplane designed by American McDonnell Douglas (MDC) and later produced by Boeing. The MD-11 program was launched on December 30, 1986, following DC-10 development studies. On March 9, 1988, the first prototype was put assembled.

The type was unveiled in September 1989 and flew for the first time on January 10, 1990. On November 8, the FAA granted certification. Finnair received the first delivery on December 7, 1990, and it began operation on December 20.

The Freight transport aircraft version of the MD-11 was the second variation available at launch in 1986, and the last and longest-produced version (1988–2000).

The all-cargo MD-11F has the same forward port-side cargo door as the MD-11CF (140 by 102 inches (3.6 m 2.6 m)), a main-deck volume of 15,530 cubic feet (440 m3), a maximum payload of 200,151 pounds (90,787 kg), and can transport 26 pallets with the same dimensions (88 by 125 inches (2.2 m 3.2 m) or 96 by 125 inches (2.4 m 3.2 m).

FedEx Express, LH Cargo, and other airlines with fewer aircraft received the MD-11F between 1991 and 2001.

Lufthansa Cargo D-ALCC McDonnell Douglas MD11-F (Thank you MD-11 Farewell Livery) (perspective). Photo: Julian Schöpfer/Airways

End of an Era

The then-modernized long-range, wide-body Boeing MD-11 was most recognized for its trademark tri-engines, winglets, and superior electronic flight instrument system. Despite its lack of commercial success, the MD-11 evolved into the MD-11F (freighter), mostly used for cargo operations.

As time passed, the MD-11F’s appearance in the sky declined as fewer cargo carriers chose to fly the more efficient Boeing 777F instead. Currently, the MD-11F is exclusively used by FedEx, UPS, Lufthansa Cargo, and Western Global Airlines.

There were only about 200 MD-11 aircraft manufactured when Boeing stopped production in 2000, with the last one being delivered to LH Cargo in 2001.

The airline’s final tri-jet, the last aircraft type registered in Europe, was painted in a unique goodbye livery with the words “Farewell” and “Thank You, MD-11” inscribed across its fuselage to express its gratitude for more than 23 years of dedicated service.

The last flights of D-ALCC consist of rotations to Cairo, Tel Aviv, Chicago, and New York, before landing at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) for the final time. Its last landing took place yesterday at noon local time.

The departure of the MD-11F clears the way for the arrival of two Boeing 777Fs – D-ALFJ and D-ALFK, respectively – into LH Cargo’s fleet. D-ALFJ is a second-hand acquisition that will stay all-white with only an inscription on the fuselage in an effort for LH Cargo to make the freighter’s capacity available to clients as quickly as feasible due to rising cargo demand.

Lufthansa Cargo 2020 numbers include 6.5 billion revenue tonne-kilometers and a turnover of €2,8bn.

Featured image: Lufthansa Cargo D-ALCM McDonnell Douglas MD-11F. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways. Article sources:,