On December 17th, a FedEx Express Boeing 757-200 flying from Billings, Montana to Memphis, Tennessee, diverted to Wichita, Kansas after cabin pressure issues arose midflight. Oxygen masks had to be worn by the crew, and an emergency descent was undertaken.
Details of the incident
According to The Aviation Herald, the nearly 32-year-old jet FedEx Boeing 757-200 was performing flight FX685 from Billings to Memphis when the pressurization issue occurred. The aircraft was en route at FL390, roughly 100nm north of Wichita when the crew experienced cabin pressure problems.
Because of this, the crew donned oxygen masks, initiated an emergency descent to just under 10,000 feet, and worked through their incident checklist. Going through the checklist, the crew was able to stabilize the cabin pressure, subsequently reporting that it was holding adequately.
A normal descent and approach to Wichita was performed, and a safe landing was made on runway 19R, about 25 minutes after leaving FL390.
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History of the incident aircraft
The Boeing 757-200, registered as N958FD, has an interesting history like much of the FedEx fleet. This aircraft actually started out as a passenger jet, first flying with Caledonian Airways in 1989 with the nickname “Loch Lomond.”
As a lease from Caledonian Airways, the jet flew with Canadian airline Nationair two separate times, from December to April 1990/91 as well as the same period 1991/92. The aircraft also flew with British Airways after its time with Caledonian.
After its time in the UK, the jet then went to Pegasus Aviation in the United States and from there, was leased out to Cebu Pacific from 2001 to 2006 and then to Air Slovakia from 2006 to 2008.
From 2009 to 2012, the jet was stored at various facilities around the United States (including Pinal and Victorville) before finally being purchased by FedEx and converted into a freighter. The conversion took place in October of 2012, and the aircraft entered freighter service the following month.
The 757 in the FedEx fleet
The Boeing 757-200 is actually the most common aircraft type in FedEx’s 457-aircraft fleet. The type makes up about a quarter of the entire fleet with 119 jets. The average age of these 757s is 29 years old. One of the more interesting 757s flying for FedEx once served as a tour-aircraft for Iron Maiden.
The company’s oldest 757 is N935FD, which is almost 38 years old. The aircraft first started service with Monarch Airlines in 1983 and was converted to a freighter in 2008/09.
Other interesting aircraft in the FedEx fleet include the Airbus A300 with an average fleet age of 25.2 years, and McDonnell Douglas DC-10s, which have an average age of 40 years.
FedEx was contacted by Simple Flying for an official statement. However, at the time of publication, no response was received from the company.