The MD-11 was probably a bad idea. McAir came up with the aircraft because it was a bigger, meaner, DC-10. So much DC-10 that there originally was not going to be an MD-11, but a DC-10 stretch. There were two attempts at this aircraft: a DC-10-10 stretched by 40 feet, and a DC-10-30 stretched by 30 feet. Concurrently, McDonnell Douglas (McAir) was concerned about the range of the 747-SP and began work on an ultra-long-range DC-10 Global.
This research lead to an aircraft series called the DC-10 Super 60. The DC-10 Super 60 was going to be a series. A simple stretch, an ultra-long-range variant, and an aircraft optimized for both range and capacity. Unfortunately for McDonnell Douglas, the American Airlines 191 crash happened – summarily executing the DC-10 program. It did not help that there was economic malaise going on at the time, either.
Many MD-11s have been converted to cargo duty. An example arriving at Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney. Photo – Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Being the kings of iteration that they were, in 1981 they decided to revive the large trijet research. Leasing a DC-10-10 from Continental, they studied various winglet configurations in conjunction with NASA. For reasons of marketing, this project would be designated the MD-100. This was an interesting project as it actually offered more engine options than the final MD-11, in the form of the Rolls Royce RB.211. By November 1983, it was clear there was no interest in the MD-100. The board shuttered it.
You probably are aware that seeing tri-jets [those airliner with that third jet in the tail] is becoming a rarity, especially in the United States. Luckily for us AvGeeks, there are still quite a few cargo carriers [and a scheduled passenger airline] still flying these classic beauties.
Recently SpeedBirdHD shared a compilation video of tri-jets that still fly in and out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on a daily basis. Hard to believe that someday these birds will only be found in a museum, but until then — enjoy!
FedEx’s first Boeing 767. Image: Boeing.
FedEx Express (redundant, right?) is the air freight branch of the shipping and delivery giant, operating a massive fleet of airliners. These include DC-10s (also referred to as MD-10s), MD-11s, 777Fs, and now, their brand-new Boeing 767-300F. At a fleet count of over 300 “mainline” aircraft (those narrow and wide-bodies not operated by feeders), how big is FedEx as an airline? Bigger than British Airways, Lufthansa, Emirates, ANA, Qantas, or US Airways. With a 50-plane backlog on the 767-300F, FedEx is taking drastic steps to modernize their fleet in the name of fuel efficiency and reliability.
The years of experience Boeing has in building and refining the 767 line has resulted in an airframe that satisfies the cargo mission very effectively. The 767-300F is based upon the 767-300ER passenger variant, with its upsized range, MTOW, and fuel capacity. FedEx expects a 30% fuel burn reduction compared to the DC/MD-10 models the 767-300F is replacing.
A Rendition of what a Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 777F will look like – Photo: Lufthansa Cargo
Two years ago an interesting order was placed with Boeing. One that might have slipped under the radar for most. This order didn’t really make all too many waves in the AvGeek world and to be honest, I didn’t even realize it myself till I was tipped off by a fellow AvGeek.
In March 2011 Lufthansa Cargo put in an order for five 777 freighters and this spurred a large amount of curiosity since it did not seem like the ideal choice to replace their aging fleet of 18 classic MD-11 aircraft.