Memphis-based logistics giant FedEx has closed the book on a chapter of airfreight history. Earlier this month, the company retired the last of its, and indeed the world’s, aging McDonnell Douglas MD-10-10F cargo aircraft. Let’s take a look back at the plane’s history.
The last retirement
The world’s last remaining McDonnell Douglas MD-10-10F made its final journey earlier this month, having been retired by cargo heavyweight FedEx. According to ch-aviation.com, the aircraft flew from Memphis to Victorville for storage on June 4th.
Data from RadarBox.com shows that its last revenue-earning cargo-carrying deployment was a round trip from Memphis International (MEM) to Puerto Rico’s San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International (SJU) on June 2nd. According to the flight-tracking site, its final flight across the US for storage took three hours and eight minutes, arriving at 16:20 local time.
The plane is the last of FedEx’s final four MD-10-10Fs to have been retired this year. According to ch-aviation, the company withdrew the first in January, and the other two last month. It originally planned to wrap the process up by late May, but just missed out.
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The aircraft in question
The registration of the plane that proved to be the world’s last commercially active MD-10-10F was N562FE. It is an aircraft that has had an interesting and diverse operational history that spans more than 43 years. According to ch-aviation’s data, it began life as a passenger-carrying DC-10 with US legacy carrier American Airlines back in February 1978.
It spent more than two decades with American under the registration N126AA, before joining Hawaiian Airlines in March 2001. However, its time here was short-lived, and FedEx acquired the aircraft in March 2003. At this time, it re-registered the plane as N562FE, before converting it to a cargo-carrying DC-10-10F, in line with its operational requirements.
In January 2005, it was redesignated as an MD-10-10F. According to Boeing, this conversion offered operators benefits such as “a two-person flight deck, weight savings, increased reliability, and commonality with the MD-11 fleet.” During its time at FedEx, N562FE also bore two different names. These were Janai (2003-2013) and Rosalie (2013-2021).
All MD-10s gone by 2023
While FedEx (and indeed the world as a whole) is now without the last of its MD-10-10Fs, the MD-10-30F variant remains active. Indeed, the company presently has 13 of this long-range variant in its fleet. However, with a whopping average age of 39 years old, they also have limited time left before they follow their MD-10-10F counterparts into retirement.
Specifically, as Simple Flying reported in January, FedEx has targeted 2023 as the year by which all of its remaining MD-10s will have been retired. Moving forward, FedEx is placing an increasing emphasis on widebody twinjets to keep its large-scale logistical operations ticking over. Its former President and CEO David Cunnigham stated in 2018 that:
“The Boeing 767 and 777 freighters have brought greater efficiency and reliability to our air operations. The 777, with its tremendous range characteristics, has allowed us to provide faster transit times around the globe.”
What do you make of this retirement? Have you ever seen one of FedEx’s former MD-10-10Fs on your travels? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.