DALLAS — This week, FedEx (FX) retired airframe N601FE, the first McDonnell Douglas MD-11F ever built. Delivered to the cargo airline in June 1994, the legacy aircraft was ferried to So California Logistics in Victorville (VCV), California, where it will be stored and possibly scrapped, as the airline is in the process of replacing its oldest aircraft with Boeing 767F and 777F aircraft.
An ex-employee who worked at FX from 1984 to 2021 and did work with these aircraft told Airways that delivery of N601FE took place in mid-1991 and that it was not the first MD11F to be put into service at the cargo airline—that tail was N602FE named Malcolm Baldrige.
Along with the MD-11F, the company introduced fedex.com in 1994 as the first transportation website to provide online package tracking, enabling customers to transact business online.
A year later, FX opened an Asia and Pacific hub at Subic Bay International Airport (SFS) in the Philippines after purchasing air routes from Evergreen International to begin services to China. As its MD-11F fleet grew, FX would go on to establish its hub at Fort Worth Alliance Airport (AFW) in 1997, and at Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in France in 1999, it established its European hub.
FedEx, which turned half a century old last week, is the largest operator of the MD-11F. The airline’s fleet is composed of 50 MD-11s, 60 Airbus A300Fs, and 100 Boeing 757Fs, according to aerotransport.org.
The trijet freighter was the last and longest-produced MD-11 variant and the second version available at launch in 1986. The all-cargo aircraft features the same forward port-side cargo door (140 by 102 inches [3.6 m × 2.6 m]) as the MD-11CF and a main-deck volume of 15,530 cubic feet (440 m3).
Similar to the MD-11C and MD-11CF, the MD-11F can transport a maximum payload of 200,151 pounds (90,787 kg) and accommodate 26 pallets of the same dimensions (88 by 125 inches [2.2 m × 3.2 m] or 96 by 125 inches [2.4 m × 3.2 m]).
Between 1994 and 2001, FX would take delivery of 22 MD-11Fs, Lufthansa (LH) Cargo,14, and other airlines with fewer aircraft received the type as well. 53 MD-11Fs built.
N601FE was based at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). After almost 30 years of operations, Airways bids farewell, and wishes a happy retirement, to 01.
Featured image: FedEx Express McDonnell-Douglas MD-11F @KSEA. Photo: Michael Rodeback/Airways